On October 31, 2016, the High Court of Delhi completes half a century of its existence. It stands proudly poised as the flagship High Court leading India’s Justice administration system to a new futuristic, technology driven, dynamic juridical era with the clear vision of a “guarantee of an independent and efficient judicial system which upholds the rule of law and denies no one access to fair and equal justice”. It has embraced modern technology to introduce efficiency and greater transparency so as to earn the trust and confidence of the people. The High Court of Delhi has guarded the Constitution of India and its values by repeatedly emphasizing that equality before law and equal protection of the laws underpin the very rights bestowed upon us by our common humanity.
The High Court of Delhi came into existence on October 31, 1966 upon enactment by Parliament of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966. It exercises jurisdiction over the Union Territory of Delhi (now, National Capital Territory of Delhi). Prior to October 31, 1966, the territory now covered by the High Court of Delhi was under the jurisdiction of the High Court of Punjab (now High Court of Punjab & Haryana).
The High Court of Delhi began functioning from a residential bungalow at 4, Maulana Azad Road. In 1967, it shifted to Travancore House on Kasturba Gandhi Marg and then to Patiala House, New Delhi. The foundation stone for its current premises at Sher Shah Road was laid by the then President of India, Dr. Zakir Hussain on November 4, 1968. Originally there were 3 buildings – one main court building (Block ‘A’) and two adjacent but integrated administrative blocks (‘B and C’) on each side of block ‘A’. The main court building (block ‘A’) has 24 court rooms. The façade of the main building has murals by Satish Gujral, the renowned painter, sculptor and muralist. The buildings were completed in 1976 and were inaugurated by the then President, Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed on September 25, 1976.
One of the endeavors of the High Court of Delhi has been and is to promote and strengthen mechanisms for alternate dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration. The court has made pioneering and significant strides in this direction. It has been in the forefront of developing Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.
Ten years ago, in 2006, it set up its own Mediation and Conciliation Centre called the “Delhi High Court Mediation & Conciliation Centre” which is also known as “Samadhan”, a name given to it in 2008. The center has a state-of-the-art infrastructure and has 263 trained and experienced mediators drawn from the bar. Since 2006, it has resolved 6,707 cases has also additionally resulted in the resolution of 4,671 cases which were not referred to mediation. Many cases are settled even at the pre-litigation stage, thereby avoiding litigation altogether.
The Delhi International Arbitration Centre (DAIC) is another institution developed by the High Court of Delhi. It is the first court annexed arbitration centre in India. It came into existence on November 25, 2009. The idea behind it was to facilitate parties to resolve their disputes through arbitration as an efficient and cost-effective alternative.