Founded by the 7th Nizam H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan, initially the High Court was set up as High Court of Hyderabad for the then Princely State of Hyderabad Deccan in the year 1919 with six judges, the number then rose to 12 after Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956. The High Court was later renamed to High Court of Andhra Pradesh, as it was set up on 5thNovermber, 1956 under the States Reorganization Act, 1956.
During the Nizam era, a regular and efficient judicial system was introduced in Hyderabad State by Sir Salar Jung, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad State (1853-83). Before that, the chief judicial power in civil matters vested in the Subhedar, while the Kotwal was the head of criminal justice administration. In the districts, administration of justice in civil and criminal cases relating to Muslims was left to the MriAdls or Darul-Quaza Courts, who were assisted by Qazis. Cases involving Hindus were usually decided by Govndrao courts; for Christians, there were AdalatBeroon Bolds; and for Arabss, MakumsQazawat-e-Arab. A separate Court was established for Europeans in the Residency in 1864.
Apart from introducing regular courts of Justice at Hyderabad, Sir Salar Jung also introduced a legal department for framing laws, but he did not demarcate the three wings of governance - the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. It was Salar Jung II, his successor and the next Prime Minister, who tried to determine the boundaries of the three wings.
The language of the High Court was Persian till the end of 1883. In January 1884, Urdu replaced Persian. A Circular was issued prohibiting the use of English language. The Judges of the High Court were appointed by a Firman or Hukum (Royal Order) of the Nizam upon the recommendation of the Government. All the members of the Judiciary, including the Judges of the High Court, were governed by the Hyderabad Civil Services Rules. During the 19th century, several Laws and statutes, on the lines of those in British India, came to be enacted in Hyderabad State also. In 1893, the Dastru-al-Amal was promulgated regulating the procedure of the High Court.
The Dastru-al-Amal remained in force, with minor modifications, until 1926 when a Royal Charter 1 was conferred by the Nizam by the High Court, which was to be the final court of Justice. The Royal Charter was superseded by the High Court Act, 1928, which dealt with the nature of cases to be heard by the High Court, the mode of constituting Benches, etc., A Judicial Committee was constituted to hear appeals from the High Court, akin to the Privy Council. Almost all the laws administered in British India were adopted by the Legislative Council of Hyderabad at that point of time. This was specifically recorded by Mirza Yar Jung, the Chief Justice of Hyderabad High Court (1918-37) in his book titled ‘His Exalted Highness and Justice.”
A clear separation of powers between the Executive and the Judiciary came about only due to the efforts of Chief Justice Mirza Yar Jung in 1921, such separation of powers acquired constitutional status after independence, but it was achieved and was already in practice in Hyderabad State nearly thirty years prior thereto. The oldest Court building in the present State of Telangana is the Principal District and Sessions Judge’s Court at Mahabubnagar, which was constructed in 1833.
India attained Independence on 15 August 1947, but Hyderabad State acceded to the Indian Union only on 17 September 1948. Appeals against the decisions of the High Court pending before the Judicial Committee stood transferred to the Indian Supreme Court under Article 374 (4) of the Constitution of India. The records in these appeals, however, were all in Urdu language making it difficult for the Supreme Court to take them up for disposal. The Supreme Court therefore decided to have an adhoc Bench at Hyderabad City itself to dispose of these cases. Accordingly, a Bench headed by Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan of the Supreme Court, along with either Chief Justice R.S. Naik of the High Court and/or Justice Khalil-uz-Zama Siaddiqui, the senior-most Judge, sat at Hyderabad High Court and disposed of nearly 500 appeals in six months. Co-operative Society of Debts v/s Nandlal (AIR 11950 SC274), Kapore Chand v/s Kadarunnissa Begum (AIR 1953 SC 413), Narhari v/s Shanakar (AIR 1953 SC 419) and NagubaAppa v/s Namdev (AIR 1954 SC 50) are some of the important reported judgements of this Supreme Court Bench, sitting at Hyderabad High Court.
After formation of the State of Andhra Pradesh under States Reorganization Act, 1956 on linguistic basis, the High Court served the united State of Andhra Pradesh from 1956 to 2014 with principal seat at Hyderabad. During this period the number of Judges rose from 12 in 1956 to 61 in 2014.
After bifurcation of the State of Andhra Pradesh under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the High Court was then renamed as High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh and served as a common High Court for both the states.
Hon’ble The President of India, on 26th December, 2018 issued orders bifurcating the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh into High Court for the State of Telangana with the principal seat at Hyderabad and High Court of Andhra Pradesh with the principal seat at Amaravati. The bifurcation and constitution of separate High Courts for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh came into effect from 1st January, 2019.
Thus the High Court has served the people of three States – the Hyderabad state during the Nizam era, united Andhra Pradesh and now the State of Telangana.
The High Court has had the privilege and distinction of sending several of its celebrated Judicial personalities to the Supreme Court. The Judges of this High Court who adorned the Apex Court are Justice KokaSubba Rao, Justice P. Satyanarayana Raju, Justice P. Ramaswamy, Justice O. Chinnapa Reddy, Justice K. Ramaswamy, Justice K. Jayachandra Reddy, Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy, Justice M. Jagannadha Rao, Justice Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri, Justice P. VenkataramaReddi, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, Justice Jasti Chelameshar, Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice R. Subhash Reddy.