The history of the law of a country is reflective of the growth and progress of its social affairs and legal philosophies. To promote the understanding of India's legal structure among the masses, the High Court Museum was set up in the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh. The museum was inaugurated on March 18, 2006, by Mrs Padma Bhandari, the wife of Hon. Justice A. N. Bhandari. The museum provides a perspective of the historical development of Punjab and Haryana High Court, compelling the visitors to appreciate the legal journey that a thriving democracy like India undertakes. It also helps the visitors develop a historical understanding of the working of the courts.
The museum, unlike other buildings of the Capitol Complex, is open to public visits and explorations. The main glass-panelled doors usher the visitors directly into the exhibition gallery, which is a small rectangular space. The second level of the exhibition area is connected with a flight of stairs which lead to the main gallery. Various landmark judgments in the legal history of India and other court records of historical importance are housed on the lower level. These records include the trial of Bhagat Singh at Lahore, creation of the post of Chief Justice, the arrest of Dr Kitchlew and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, etc.
An original copy of the Constitution of India calligraphed by Prem Behari Raizada, illuminated by Nandalal Bose and other artists from Santiniketan, photolithographed at the Survey of India Office, Dehradun, and signed by members of the Constituent Assembly is another important exhibit on display. Handcuffs of Nathuram Godse, who was convicted for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, invite the curiosity of the visitors.
Many items of everyday use in the courts are displayed in the museum galleries, including a dater made of wood, punching machines, pen stands, ink bottles and nibs, calendars, typewriters that were used in the past, in order to recreate and illustrate the ambience of the courtrooms of the bygone era. A collection of stamps and seals used by the high court is neatly labelled and displayed in glass cases. Certain court weapons are also displayed, adding to the intrigue of the museum.