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High Court And The Subordinate Judiciary in Tamil Nadu

The judicial system of Tamil Nadu consists of two categories of courts, namely, High Court and the subordinate courts.



The judicial system of Tamil Nadu consists of two categories of courts, namely, High Court and the subordinate courts. The seat of High Court is in Chennai in Tamil Nadu and the seats of subordinate courts are in the district headquarters and below. Here, let us study the judicial system in Tamil Nadu in general.


High Court


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.


Independence of the Judges


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.


Jurisdiction and powers


The High Court of Chennai has the following jurisdiction and powers as per the constitution.


1.       Original Jurisdiction


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.


2.       Appellate Jurisdiction


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.


3.       Writ Jurisdiction


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.


4.       Power of Superintendence


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.


5.       Head of State Judiciary


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.


Subordinate Courts


The subordinate courts are divided into two categories, namely, the civil courts subject to the civil procedure code and the criminal courts subject to the criminal procedure code. According to the All India Judges Association case (1989), the Supreme Court directed to bring a uniform designation in the subordinate judiciary's judicial officers all over the country - District or Additional District Judges, Civil Judge (Senior Division) and the Civil Judge (Junior Division) on the civil side and Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judge, Chief Judicial Magistrate, and Judicial Magistrate on the criminal side as laid down in the criminal procedure code. The chart below shows the hierarchy of courts in the subordinate courts.


In addition, there are courts known as small causes courts. These courts are set up either under the Provisional Small Causes Act at the district level or under the Presidency Small Causes Court Act in presidency or metropolitan down.


The constitution provides that a District Judge shall be appointed by the Governor in consultation with the High Court of the state concerned and the posting including transfer and promotion are made in like manner. Relating to the appointment in any other post of the state judicial service, the constitution says that such appointment may be made by the Governor of the state in accordance with the rules framed by him in consultation with the State Public Service Commission and the High Court. The administrative control over the members of subordinate judicial service vests with the High Court under Article 235 of the constitution.


Family Courts


In addition to the hierarchy of regular courts, family courts also are constituted in various states in India. According to Family Courts Act of 1984, these courts have powers and jurisdiction to enquire into the cases relating to marriages and family affairs with a view to settle cases without much expenditure and going to regular courts which are


The chart showing hierarchy of subordinate courts

Civil side : Criminal side

District Judge : Sessions Judge

Additional District Judge : Additional Sessions Judge

Civil Judge (Senior Division) : Chief Judicial Magistrate.-      -

Civil Judge (Junior Division) : Judicial Magistrate

expensive. Matters such as dispute within the family, divorce, dowry harrassment, etc. are looked into by these courts. These courts follow the Civil Procedure Code.

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11th 12th std standard Political Science History goverment rule laws life Higher secondary school College Notes : High Court And The Subordinate Judiciary in Tamil Nadu |

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