District Courts

Delhias a district legal entity was recognised by theProclamation NotificationNo. 911 dated 17.09.1912 issued by Governor General ofIndiain Council. By this Notification,Delhicame under the immediate authority and management of the Governor General ofIndiain Council. Simultaneously, the Delhi Laws Act, 1912 was enacted for enforcing the existing laws inDelhi. On 22.02.1915 the area known as Trans Yamuna was also included in the newly createdprovinceofDelhi. During the year 1913, the Delhi Judiciary consisted of:
  • District & Sessions Judge.
  • Senior Sub-Judge
  • Judge, SmallCauses Court
  • Registrar, SmallCauses Court
  • Sub-Judges

Two Courts of Sub-Judges were added in 1920. These Courts continue to function, although due to exigencies, some temporary measures were adopted to clear back logs etc.

In 1948, one more post of Sub-Judge was created to enforce the Rent Control Act. Thereafter, six temporary Courts of Sub-Judges were created in 1953. In 1959, the strength of the Sub-Judges wentup to21. At that time there was one District & Sessions Judge and four Additional District & Sessions Judges.

Till 1966, the District Courts of Delhi remained under the administrative control of Punjab High Court when Delhi High Court was established.

According to Delhi District Gazetteer (1912), the District Magistrate was responsible for the administration of criminal Justice being Chief Magistrate and Supervisor of the police.The staff in 1910 consisted of:

Types of Magistrats Stipendiary Honorary
First Class Magistrates 08 11
Second Class Magistrates 04 14
Third Class Magistrates 03 01

One of the First-Class Magistrates had always the powers of District Magistrate to enable him to try serious cases, thus the District Magistrate and the Section Judges were relieved of undesirable strain. The Honorary Magistrates usually sat as a bench for the trial of minor offences (chiefly assault cases).

A bench consisting of a Hindu and a Mohammedans with Second-Class powers was constituted forRaisina(New Delhi) in 1912 to deal with cases within the limits of the Imperial Delhi Municipal Committee to which the exercise of their powers was confined.

TheNajafgarhBench of two Magistrates with Third Class powers was constituted in 1921 having the power throughout the Province.

During 1926, there were two First-Class and one Second-Class Honorary Magistrates atDelhi.The comparative strength of criminal courts in the Union Territory of Delhi during 1951 and 1961 was as follows:

Types of Court 1951 1961
District Magistrate 01 01
Addl. District Magistrate 01 03
StipendiaryMagistrates 13 24
Honorary Magistrates 11 27

The institution of Honorary Magistrates was abolished in Delhi in October 1969.  The Magisterial strength in 1972 consisted of one District Magistrate, three Additional District Magistrates and twelve Sub-Divisional Magistrates.

The Judiciary of the Union Territory of Delhi was separated from the Executive in October 1969 under the Union Territories (Separation of Judicial and Executive Functions) Act, 1969.  The Act provides for two classes of criminal courts, namely the Courts of Sessions and the Courts of Magistrates.  The latter consists of Judicial Magistrates namely (i) The Chief Judicial Magistrate and the Judicial Magistrate of the First and Second Class and (ii) the Executive Magistrates including the District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrates, Executive Magistrates of the First and the Second Class and the Special Executive Magistrates.

Prior to the separation of judicial and executive functions, the entire Magistracy used to function under the direct control of the District Magistrate of Delhi.  Under the new setup, The Judicial Magistrates were placed under the direct control of the High Court. The Chief Judicial Magistrate exercised most of the powers under the Criminal Procedure Code previously exercisable by the District Magistrate.

With effect from 1st April 1974, Delhi was declared as a Metropolitan Area by a notification under Section 8 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 being notification No. 155 dated 28th March 1974 of the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, published in Gazette of India (Extra) Part II Section 3 (ii). 

The entire judicial district of Delhi, which is now National Capital Territory of Delhi, is comprised in one Sessions Division.  It is headed by one  Session   Judge.   It had one chief Metropolitan Magistrate and four Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrates. The number of the courts of the Sessions and Courts of Metropolitan Magistrates varies from time to time.

On 27th August 1970, two judicial services were created for Delhi, namely Delhi Higher Judicial Service and Delhi Judicial Service. The strength of these two services has continuously increased. Now the sanctioned strength of Delhi Higher Judicial Service is 169. The Delhi Judicial Service has 218 posts.

Originally, District Courts were located in the house of Mrs. Forster, where only eight courts could be accommodated. In 1899, few more rooms were rented in     H-Abdul Rehman Ataul Rehman Building. The old building at Kashmere Gate was declared unsafe in 1949. In the year 1953, twenty-two Civil Subordinate Courts were moved to Hindu College Building (1, Skinners House) at Kashmere Gate. The Courts continued to function in this building till 31-03-1958. Construction of Tis Hazari Courts Building started in 1953. The same was inaugurated on 19-03-1958 by the Chief Justice Mr. A. N. Bhandari of the then Punjab High Court. Initially, all the civil courts and many criminal courts were housed in this building. Even today Tis Hazari continues to be the principal Court building in Delhi. Tis Hazari Courts complex now housed the courts having jurisdiction of Central, North and West Civil Districts.

The criminal courts were shifted to Patiala House from Parliament Street in March 1977. This Court Complex is situated in the palace of erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala near India Gate.  The Courts at Patiala House Courts Complex deal with cases of Civil, Criminal, Rent and Motor Accident Claims pertaining to New Delhi Civil Districts.  
The Karkardooma Courts Complex was inaugurated on   15-05-1993 and the courts functioning at Shahdra were shifted there. The building of Karkardooma Courts Complex was completed in the year 1997-98.  This was the most modern operational District Courts building in Delhi at that time. The Courts at Karkardooma House Courts Complex deal with cases of Civil, Criminal, Rent and Motor Accident Claims pertaining to East and North-Eest Civil Districts.A residential block for Judicial Officers and Staff is also located alongwith the regular Court building.   
The Rohini Courts Complex is now functional since 2006. Presently Courts in Rohini Courts Complex are dealing with Civil, Criminal, Rent and Motor Accident Claims cases pertaining to North-West Civil District (North-West and Outer Police Districts).

The building of Dwarka Courts Complex completed in the year 2008 and was inaugurated by Hon'ble Chief Justice of India Sh. K.G. Balakrishanan on 6th September 2008.  Dwarka Courts Complex is another modern operational District Courts Complex in Delhi. The Courts at Dwarka Courts Complex deal with cases of Civil, Criminal, Rent and Motor Accident Claims pertaining to South-West Civil District (South-West and Airport Police Districts).

The Saket Court Complex started functioning with effect from 28th August, 2010.  The Work of Civil and Criminal cases relating to South Civil District (South and South-East Police Districts) are taken up at this court complex.  Similarly, Motor Accident Claim Petitions relating to the area within the jurisdiction of the aforesaid police districts shall be dealt with by the MACT's established at Saket.