Before describing the other details, it is necessary to give a brief account of the system of Civil and Criminal Justice that prevailed previously in Sirmaur District. Earlier, Sirmaur was a Princely State. During the reign of 42nd Ruler, Raja Fateh Prakash Criminal Cases were decided by ordeal system/method. There were four methods namely (i) swearing by ‘Ishwar Jagan Nath’, (ii) ‘Dib Ghara Gola; (iii) ‘Dib Dali and (iv) Dib Karachi’. There was yet another method called ‘Jal Dobani’.
In Civil matters, Raja used to hold an open Court known as Darbar, Once or twice in a week. The Court/Darbar’s proceedings were recorded in Hindi. The complaints could be made in Sirmauri script, based on Nagari letters. Prior to accession of Raja Shamsher Prakash, Civil Justice in Sirmaur State was administered according to old system and practically every thing coming to the Ruler/Raja for final decision. However, 44th
Ruler Raja Shamsher Parkash embarked upon reforms, as there was no clear Law/Rules and no set standards of Justice. The Raja’s word was the law of the day. Raja Shamsher Prakash decided to follow the Law and Pattern of the British Indian Government. To start, he introduced in Sirmaur State, the Civil and Criminal procedure codes of British India. He organised regular Courts under these Codes. Successor of Raja Shamsher Prakash, the 45th Ruler, Raja Surinder Prakash, remodelled the Judicial System introduced by Raja Shamsher Prakash, which was further improved by 46th Ruler, H.H. Maharaja Amar Prakash. Practically all General and important Laws and enactments in force in British India and particularly in the Punjab were invariably adopted for Sirmaur State, unless they were unsuitable for local conditions. Earlier, Tehsildars were invested with the Powers of Magistrate IInd Class and also that of Subordinate Judge. Over the Tehsildar another officer was given the Powers of District Judge and Magistrate Ist Class; the heir apparent was made the Collector and the District Magistrate. The Raja’s own Court was declared to be the Court of final appeal. In 1891, a High Court was constituted for the disposal of appellate work. It was known as Bench Court, comprising of two Judges. In case of a difference of opinion, the decision of Raja was sought and it was final. The death sentence awarded by Raja, however, required the confirmation of Commissioner of Delhi. To administer Criminal Justice, the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure together with all the local and Special Laws of the Punjab State were made applicable.
In 1934, during the time of H.H. Maharaja Rajinder Prakash, the last and 47th Ruler of Sirmaur State, the Criminal Courts were reorganised. The highest Tribunal was the ‘Ijlas-a-Khas’ (High Court), consisting of Maharaja as a Chief Justice and two Puisne Judges. Appeals and Revisions were heard by any of the Judges sitting alone or by a Division or as full bench. Below the High Court there was the Court of Sessions Judge.
The Sessions Judge, used to exercise all the Powers of a Sessions Judge as in Punjab. Subordinate to Sessions Judge, there were the Courts of District Magistrate Ist Class and Magistrate IInd Class (Tehsildar) and Magistrate IIIrd Class.
At the time of integration, the organization of Civil and Criminal Courts in the erstwhile Sirmaur State as under:-
- High Court.
- Court of District Judge.
- Court of Senior Sub Judge.
- Court of Sub Judge.
- High Court.
- Court of Sessions Judge.
- Court of Senior Sub Judge.
- Court of District Magistrate.
- Court of Magistrate, Ist Class.
- Court of Magistrate, IInd Class.
District Headquaters : Nahan
Altitude : 932 meters(ft)
Longitude and Latitude : 30.5500 and 77.3000
After merger of Princely States and formation of Himachal Pradesh (Union Territory) on 15.4.1948, only one Court of Senior Sub Judge-cum-Chief Judicial Magistrate, was functioning on regular basis in Sirmaur District. There was only one District and Sessions Judge for four Districts i.e. erstwhile Mahasu, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Kinnaur with headquarter at Shimla and he used to hold circuit Court at Nahan. There was no own High Court of Himachal Pradesh, which was a Union Territory and Delhi High Court with its bench at Shimla was having the jurisdiction of High Court of Himachal Pradesh. On merger of hill areas of Punjab State in Himachal Pradesh on 1.11.1966, Shimla District was formed and Shimla District was also included in the jurisdiction of District and Sessions Judge, Mahasu, Sirmaur, Bilaspur, Kinnaur and Shimla at Shimla.
On reorganisation of Districts on 1.11.1972, Solan District was formed and a separate District and Sessions Judge for Solan and Sirmaur Districts was appointed with headquarter at Solan. He used to hold circuit Court at Nahan. In the Year 1974, his head quarter was shifted from Solan to Nahan and thereafter a regular Court of District and Sessions Judge started functioning at Nahan for both the Districts and the District and Sessions Judge used to hold circuit Court in Solan District. Thereafter, the Court of Sub Judge, Ist Class-cum-Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate was established at Nahan in the Year 1974. In the Year 1981, the Court of Sub Judge, Ist Class-cum-S.D.J.M. was established at Paonta Sahib and Rajgarh, in Sirmaur Districts. In the year 1982, the Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Sirmaur District at Nahan was also established. In the Year 1988, Court of Sub Judge, Ist Class-cum-SDJM, Court No.2 at Paonta Sahib was also established.
In December, 1989, a separate District and Sessions Judge for Solan District was appointed and Sirmaur Civil and Sessions Division as in the existing form came to in being. However, the ministerial staff of erstwhile Solan and Sirmaur Divisions was bifurcated finally on 1.5.1991 and at that time seven Courts were functioning in Sirmaur Civil and Sessions Division. On 10.04.2019, court of Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, came into existence at Shillai. On 10.12.2021, Fast Track Special Court(Rape/POCSO) came into existence at Nahan. In January, 2023, the court of Additional District and Sessions, Paonta Sahib came into existence and at present ten regular courts are functioning in Sirmaur Civil and Sessions Division, as under :-
- District and Sessions Judge, Sirmaur District at Nahan.
- Addl. District and Sessions Judge, Nahan, District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Addl. District and Sessions Judge, Fast Track Special Court (Rape/POCSO), Sirmaur District at Nahan.
- Addl. District and Sessions Judge, Paonta Sahib, District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Sr.Civil Judge-cum-CJM, Sirmaur District at Nahan, H.P.
- Civil Judge-cum-JMFC, Nahan, District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Civil Judge-cum-JMFC, Rajgarh, District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Sr.Civil Judge-cum-ACJM, Court No.1, Paonta Sahib,District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Civil Judge-cum-JMFC, Court No.2, Paonta Sahib, District Sirmaur, H.P.
- Civil Judge-cum-JMFC, Shillai, District Sirmaur, H.P.
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