Glimpses

Glimpses of Sikkim Judiciary

 

 
On April 17, 1955, the High Court of Sikkim was established by virtue of a Proclamation, the High Court of Judicature (Jurisdiction and Powers) Proclamation, 1955 proclaimed by the then Maharaja of Sikkim who was known as the 'Chogyal'. From the records available, it can be gathered that the administration of justice in Sikkim in the last century was carried out by the Feudal Landlords (Adda Courts), Jongpons (District Officers), Pipons (Headmen) and Mandals with the Chogyal at the top. In 1909, Kazis, Thikadars and Lamas were invested with judicial power by a State Council Resolution. They could try civil suits upto the value of Rs.500/-.
The old Secretariat which was started in 1915. The ground floor of the Secretariat housed the Chief Court.
It was in the year 1916, the Appellate Court designated as Chief Court was created with jurisdiction to try important original suits. The Court was exercising appellate jurisdiction over the Adda Courts. Appeals from the Chief Court would lie to the Supreme Court of His Highness the Maharaja. The Court of the Maharaja, without having original jurisdiction, was the final Court of Appeal in the state. A Board on the lines of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England, would hear the parties and scrutinize the evidence regarding merit of the case and then render its opinion to the Maharaja.
 
Adda Courts were subsequently abolished in 1949 on the recommendation of the Judicial Proposal Committee. The state was divided into four Revenue Districts and accordingly Magistrates were appointed in each district with original appellate jurisdiction under criminal and civil side. The Courts of Assistant Magistrates and the Courts of Tehsildars were also created. Records speak of appointment of a Judge of the High Court of Sikkim in the year 1953 itself much before the establishment of the High Court of Sikkim in 1955.
   
 
After establishment of the High Court of Sikkim in 1955, the post of Munsif Magistrate was created in 1963 and the Chief Magistrate was vested with powers to hear appeals from all Magisterial Courts. Appeals from the High Court were heard by His Highness the Maharaja of Sikkim who exercised the prerogative to grant mercy, pardon, remission, commutation and reduction of sentence in case of conviction. The Maharaja had also retained his prerogative to set up a Special Tribunal for the review of any case, civil or criminal.
   
 
Initially the idea of an independent judiciary did not exist. Judicial procedures were free from legal technicalities and were based on the principles of natural justice.
   
  In the year 1970, a separate Munsif Magistrate was appointed for hearing civil suits.    
 
Subsequent upon the then Kingdom of Sikkim signing the Tripartite with the Government of India and three political parties on May 8, 1973, the lowest subordinate court became the District Court presided over by a Judge. The Chief Magistrate was designated as Judge of the Central Court and the High Court of Judicature remained the Apex Court.
   
 
On the merger of Sikkim with the Indian Union by the Constitution (36th Amendment) Act as the 22nd State under Article 371(F), in 1975, the "High Court of Judicature" became the "High Court of Sikkim" with effect from April, 26, 1975.
   
 
Presently there are four Revenue Districts. Civil Judge cum Judicial Magistrates are posted in the four districts, two Chief Judicial Magistrates cum Civil Judges look after two districts each i.e (East & North) and (South & West) whereas two District Judges also look after two districts each as above.
   
 
Further the Sikkim Judicial Service Rules, 1975 and the Sikkim Superior Judicial Service Rules, 1980 were framed laying down the procedure of Recruitment, Conditions of Service of Judicial Officers, thus creating a separate cadre of Judicial Officers in the State paving the way to have the separation of judiciary. The Sikkim Judiciary, hence, started functioning as an Independent Judiciary.
   
 

 

Courtesy :

Honb'le Mr. Justice

Aftab H. Saikia

Former Chief Justice

High Court of Sikkim

   
 

 

Glimpses of District & Sessions Court (South & West), Namchi

 

 

District Courts Complex, Namchi, South Sikkim.
Prior to its bifurcation, the jurisdiction of the District & Sessions Court, Sikkim, at Gangtok extended to all the four districts of Sikkim.

 

On July 5, 1994, vide notification no 54(103)Home/93/38, the State Government of Sikkim notified the following:

 

“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898) and in suppression of all previous notifications on the subject, the State Government hereby divides the whole of Sikkim into two sessions divisions, one for East and North Districts and another for South and West Districts with the headquarters at Gangtok with immediate effect for the purpose of the said code.”

 

Consequent upon the creation of two separate Sessions Divisions vide the above notification, the High Court of Sikkim posted Shri T. D. Rinzing as District & Sessions Judge (South & West) and Shri A. P. Subba as District & Sessions Judge (East & North). The two Sessions Divisions, however, functioned from its headquarters at Gangtok.

 

 

 

The Courts Complex at Namchi, South Sikkim at the relevant time was a single storied “ekra” structure. On 27th December, 1996, Shri Justice Malay Sengupta, the then Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Sikkim laid the foundation stone for a multi storied RCC building which was to house three Courts for South & West districts of Sikkim. The structure was inaugurated on 28th September, 2000, by Hon'ble Shri Justice, Ripusadan Dayal, Chief Justice of the High Court of Sikkim.
 
 
In March, 2000, vide letter No. V(38)”CB”/Confdl/HCS/8243-44 dated 23/03/2000, the High Court of Sikkim issued a letter to move the District & Sessions Court (South & West) from its headquarters at Gangtok to Namchi, South Sikkim and thereby notified that the District & Sessions Court (South and West) would function with its headquarters at Namchi.
 
 
Consequent upon the orders of the High Court of Sikkim, the District and Sessions Court (South & West) shifted to Namchi and started functioning from April 3, 2000. At the relevant time Shri T. W. Bhutia was the District & Sessions Judge (South & West).
 
 
It is understood that the Court complex at Namchi housed the Court of the Munsif Magistrate prior to 1970. During 1970 the Munsif Magistrate's Court was abolished and the Court of the Civil Judge cum Judicial Magistrate came into being. Shri T. D. Rinzing was the last Munsif Magistrate of the South District while Shri A. P. Subba became the first Civil Judge cum Judicial Magistrate (South). It was in the year 1998, the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate cum Civil Judge (South/West) was established at Namchi Courts Complex. Dr. S. W. Lepcha was the first Chief Judicial Magistrate cum Civil Judge (South & West) to function from Namchi Courts Complex.
 
 
 
Consequent upon the orders of the Hon'ble High Court of Sikkim and the oppointment of the District & Sessions Judge (West) at Gyalshing, the District and Sessions Court (South & West) was bifurcated into two separate divisions, District & Sessions Court (South) at Namchi, South Sikkim and District & Sessions Court (West) at Gyalshing, West Sikkim w.e.f 03/10/2013.
 
 
 
Namchi is located at 27.17°N 88.35°E. It has an average elevation of 1315 meters (4314 feet). It is situated at an altitude of 1,675 m (5500 feet) above sea level and is at a distance of 92 kms from the state capital Gangtok, while the distance to Siliguri is 90 kms, which is the nearest railhead and airport. Namchi lies off the road between Melli and Jorethang. It is well connected to other towns in Sikkim and West Bengal and commands a panoramic view of the snow capped mountains and vast stretches of valley. It is also the headquarters of the South District of Sikkim. The area is fast growing into a tourist destination with its enormous potential for all round tourist activities.
 
 
Old Namchi Town. 1960

 

New Namchi Town, 2012

 

 
 
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