Federal Court of India

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The Federal Court of India was a judicial body, established in India in 1937 under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935, with original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. It functioned until the supreme courts were established in India (1950) and in Pakistan (1956) were established. Although the seat of the Federal Court was at Delhi, however, the Federal Court was established in Pakistan in Karachi after the partition. There was a right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London from the Federal Court of India.

The Federal Court had exclusive original jurisdiction in any dispute between the Central Government and the Provinces. Initially, it was empowered to hear appeals from the High Courts of the provinces in the cases which involved the interpretation of any Section of the Government of India Act, 1935. From 5 January 1948 it was also empowered to hear appeals in those cases, which did not involve any interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935.[1]


The Federal Court came into being on 1 October 1937. The seat of the court was the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building in Delhi. It began with a Chief Justice and two puisne judges. The first Chief Justice was Sir Maurice Gwyer and the other two judges were Sir Shah Muhammad Sulaiman and M. R. Jayakar. It functioned until the establishment of the Supreme Court of India on 28 January 1950.

List of Chief Justices[edit]

Number Name Period of office Length of term (days) Bar Appointed by
1 Sir Maurice Gwyer 1 October 1937 25 April 1943 2,032 Inner Temple The Marquess of Linlithgow
Acting Sir Srinivas Vardachariar 25 April 1943 7 June 1943 43
2 Sir Patrick Spens 7 June 1943 14 August 1947 1,529 Inner Temple
3 *Sir H. J. Kania 14 August 1947 26 January 1950 896 Bombay High Court The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
14 August 1947 26 June 1954
Lahore High Court Muhammad Ali Jinnah

‡ – Date of Resignation

  • Federal Court partitioned into the federal courts of India and Pakistan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kumar, Raj (ed.) (2003). Essays on Legal Systems in India. New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House. pp. 108–11. ISBN 81-7141-701-9. 

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