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High Court of Calcutta

Page history last edited by Andrew Otis 6 years, 6 months ago

Date of tip: August 2013-September 2014

Source: Andrew Otis, otis.andrew@gmail.com


Location: Esplanade Row W, B B D Bagh, Kolkata, West Bengal


How to get there: Take the Metro to Esplanade Street. Walk West past Raj Bhavan. Enter through Gate E.


Language: English, Bengali


Getting started: You will need a photocopy of your passport and visa, passport photos, a letter of introduction from your supervisor to the "Registrar Original Side High Court Calcutta", and your own letter also addressed to the "Registrar Original Side High Court Calcutta" to request access to specific files or archives in general. Submit documents in person to the Registrar Original Side's office on the second floor. 


The Research Department is outside Gate C, just before the security guards, on the right, on the South side of the department. They can help you carrying out your research. It is currently led by a Mr. Paul.


The Communications department is on the ground floor. From gate E, take a right, and then another right. Follow the hallway, turning left, to the end. You can receive all requests back from the Registrar from here.


Opening Hours: 10am-5pm


Archives: (The High Court has six archives that I know of.)

  • Mayor's Court (A locked room on the third floor "Centenary Building" opposite to the main High Court building). Files from around 1750 to 1862, are organized by bunch by year and bound between wood slats with twine. Files are often misplaced. Despite the archive's name, it actually contains the majority of files from the Supreme Court of Judicature. These files are mostly affidavits, and not court proceedings. Five bound catalogs of cases reside in a closet size room around the hallway (accessible on request). The catalog is missing for the years 1775-1800. Additionally, the catalogs are inaccurate.
  • Old Records Room. Records are generally from 1862 onwards. Preservation quality is terrible. No catalog that I am aware of.
  • New Records Room. Records are generally from 1862 onwards. No catalog that I am aware of.
  • Testamentary Department. Records are generally from 1862 onwards. No catalog that I am aware of.
  • Company Matters Department. Records are only from the 20th century onwards. No catalog that I am aware of.
  • Khidderpore Central Records Room (A yellow building down an alleyway just opposite to the BNR Masjid in Khidderpore). I have been told that the Khidderpore Central Records Room contains "tens of lacks" of records. The Khidderpore Central Records Room also contains "appellate side" records. To request these, address your letter of request to "Registrar Appellate Side High Court Calcutta." The Khidderpore staff will not tell or show you any information about the records they have. Preservation quality seems to be a bit better here. You may request the registrar to order the Khidderpore staff to carry out a search for you. Or you may request access to the ledger kept in Khidderpore. I have been dissuaded from requesting access to the ledger because it was "too voluminous." The Registrar has informed me that the records at Khidderpore are fairly new, usually more modern than 25 years ago,
  • Note: The above are just the "original side" records. There is a separate division of "appellate side" records. I am not familiar with those records.


General working conditions: Very poor preservation. Staff is uncooperative. Exceedingly bureaucratic, even for an Indian institution. Expect to take at least a month to gain access. No air conditioning. Expect a week's time to hear back about any request.


Consultation: Address all your requests on your institution's letterhead to the "Registrar Original Side High Court Calcutta"


Policy on technology: Laptops policy is uncertain. I brought mine and didn't ask if it was allowed. No cameras or photography. 


Photocopy policy: No photocopies allowed.


Particularities: There is a cafeteria in the Centenary Building. It looked unappetizing. There are a number of street food options nearby.


Etc: It is very helpful, for obvious reasons, if you have a contact at the High Court who can assist your application.


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