The High Court stands at the head of the Judiciary in Tamil Nadu. It consists of a Chief Justice and several other judges. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President of India. Other judges are appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme court, the Governor of the state and the Chief Justice of the High court. Besides, the President has the power to appoint additional judges for a temporary period not exceeding two years, for the clearance of arrears of work in High Court and an acting judge, when a permanent judge of the High Court is temporarily absent or unable to perform his duties or is appointed to act temporarily as Chief Justice. A Judge of High Court shall hold office until the age of 62 years. Every judge permanent, additional or acting, may vacate his office earlier in any of the following ways.
1. By resignation in writing and adressed to the President
2. By being appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court or being transferred to any other High Court, by the president; and
3. By removal of the President on an address of both Houses of Parliament on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
The qualifications laid down in the constitution for the appointment as a High court Judge are following:
1. He must be a citizen of India
2. He must not be over 62 years of age.
3. He must have held a judicial office in the territory of India. or,
4. He must have been an advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years.
As in the case of the Judges of the Supreme Court, the constitution seeks to maintain the independence of the Judges of the High Courts by the following provisions.
1. The Judges of the High Court are important constitutional authorities.
2. The salaries and allowances of the Judges are charged from the Consolidated Fund of the state.
3. Salaries and allowances payable to a Judge and rights in respect of leave and pension can not be varied by the parliament to his disadvantage after his retirement, except under the Financial Emergency under Article 360.
4. The removal of a Judge is followed by a strict procedure like that of the removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court; and
5. A Judge should not hold any office of profit after his retirement.
The High Court of Chennai has the following jurisdiction and powers as per the constitution.
The High Courts at the three presidency towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras had an original jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, over cases arising within the respective presidency towns. The original criminal jurisdiction of the High Court has, however, been completely taken away by the criminal procedure code, 1973. Though city civil courts have also been set up to try civil cases within the same area, the original civil jurisdiction of these High Courts has not altogether been abolished but retained in respect of actions of higher value.
The High Court is the highest court in the state of Tamil Nadu. It has appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases. On the civil side, an appeal from the decision of District Judge and from that of a subordinate Judge in cases of higher value, lie direct to the High Court.
According to B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution of India, Article 32 is the soul and heart of the constitution, because, it safeguards the rights, liberty and privileges of every citizen of India in terms of writs. As such, the High Court has the writ jurisdiction under Article 226. There are five writs, namely, Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo-warranto.
The High Court has the power of superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout its territorial Jurisdiction, except military tribunals. Indeed, it has a wide power.
As the head of the state judiciary, the High Court has got an administrative control over the subordinate judiciary in respect of certain matters, besides its appellate and supervisory jurisdiction over them. Thus, the High Court is powerful. Also, it acts as the court of records. Above all, it has the bench jurisdiction in which the most important and burning cases of the state are settled.