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The High Courts are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in the state along with District Courts, which are subordinate to the High courts. There are 21 High Courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one State. Each High Court comprises of a Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may, from time to time, appoint. The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State. Each High Court has powers of superintendence over all Courts within its jurisdiction.
The work of most High Courts consists of taking up of appeals from lower courts. High court has various powers including those relating to reference, appeal, revision, and transfer of cases. Every High Court has power to issue to any person, authority or Government within its jurisdiction directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari or for enforcement of Fundamental Rights and for any other purpose(enforcement of legal duty or legal rights).
The jurisdiction of a High court is not limited to the protection of the fundamental rights but also other legal rights. This power may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or residence of such person is not within those territories.
Under Article 241 of the constitution, Parliament is empowered to constitute a High Court for a Union Territory or declare any court in any such territory to be a High court for all or any of the purposes of the constitution. Among the Union Territories Delhi alone has a High Court of its own. Other six Union Territories come under the jurisdiction of different State High Courts. The Calcutta High Court is the oldest High Court in the country, established on 2 July 1862.