Article 214 of the Constitution of India reads:
High Courts for States: there shall be a High Court for each State.
The Gauhati High Court as of today emerged from the High Court of Assam. On 9th September 1947, the Assam Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution that a High Court be established for the Province of Assam. In exercise of power conferred by sub-section (1) of section 229 of the Government of India Act, 1935, as adopted by the Indian Provincial Constitution (Amendment) Order, 1948, the Governor General of India was pleased to promulgate on 1st March, 1948 the Assam High Court Order, 1948, establishing the High Court of Assam with effect from 5th April, 1948, for the then Province of Assam.
Inauguration of High Court
Sir Harilal Kania, the then Chief Justice of India came to preside over the inauguration of the High Court at the invitation of His Excellency the Governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hydari and the Premier of the Province Late Gopinath Bardoloi. Sir R.F. Lodge was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Assam High Court on 5th April 1948. The Assam High Court initially had its sittings at Shillong but shifted to Gauhati from 14th August 1948. Later on, the Assam High Court came to be known as the High Court of Assam and Nagaland on the constitution of State of Nagaland with effect from 1st December 1963. On reorganization of the North-Eastern region by the North Eastern Area (Re-organization) Act, 1971, a common High Court was established for the five North-Eastern States (Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura ) and the two Union Territories ( Union Territory of Mizoram and the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh) and called as the Gauhati High Court.
Common High Court for the State of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh
With the enactment of the State of Mizoram Act, 1986 ( Act 34 of 1986 ) and the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 ( Act 69 of 1986), the States of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood on 20.2.1987. By the State of Mizoram Act, 1986, from the appointed day, common High Court for the States of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram called the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram came into being. Under the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986, from the appointed day, ie, 20.2.1987, a common High Court for the State of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh came into being.
The Principal Seat of the Gauhati High Court is at Guwahati, Assam. Apart from the Principal Seat, the High Court has 3 (three) outlying Benches, viz, Kohima Bench for the State of Nagaland (established on 1.12.1972), Aizawl Bench for the State of Mizoram (established on 5.7.90) and Itanagar Bench for the State of Arunachal Pradesh (established on 12.8.2000). The Gauhati High Court occupied a unique position of being a common High Court of seven States of North East India, till 23.03.2013, the date of the functioning of separate High Courts in Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura.
The Ethnic Angle
The Gauhati High Court administers Justice in an area having enormous variations. Geographically, it is an assortment of hills and valleys. Ethnically, it is an extraordinary mosaic. The legal and judicial scenario is more varied. Divergent laws govern the people of the region. The indigenous inhabitants of the hill areas are primarily adapted to the conciliatory process rather than the adversary system. Some of the customary practices for settlement of disputes practiced in this area are not only expeditious and lasting, but far more efficacious than the system followed in the supposedly advanced areas. The laws applicable to different areas may vary, but the entire area is administered by a common High Court. The High Court is a unique one, whereby a single institution exercises jurisdiction throughout the entire North East region. When the Constitution of India came into force under the provisions of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, District Council Courts were established in the Tribal Areas and as a result, the jurisdiction of the Assam High Court was extended to the Tribal Area vide Assam High Court (Jurisdiction over District Council Courts) Order 1954.