The Kerala High Court stands at the apex of the judicial administration in the State of Kerala and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. The honourable court was established on 1st November 1956 in the district of Ernakulam at Kochi.
The High Court comprises of a Chief Justice, at present, Justice S Manikumar, and other Judges as the President may, from time to time, appoint. At present, the sanctioned Judge strength of the High Court of Kerala is 35 Permanent Judges including the Chief Justice and 12 Additional Judges (10.06.2021).
History of Kerala High Court
The State of Kerala was formed on 01-11-1956 according to the States Reorganization Act, 1956 by merging of the Travancore-Cochin State and the Malabar District of Madras State. Travancore-Cochin State was created on 01-07-1949 by consolidating the princely states of Travancore and Cochin. The Malabar District of the Madras State was already a locale of the Madras Presidency.
The State of Travancore had a High Court at Thiruvananthapuram, the State of Cochin had its High Court at Ernakulam and Malabar District was under the purview of Madras High Court. With the incorporation of the States of Travancore and Cochin on 01-07-1949, the High Court of Travancore-Cochin was introduced with its seat at Ernakulam on 07-07-1949.
With the birth of God’s Own Country, the High Court of Kerala was set up on 01-11-1956 with its seat at Ernakulam and inaugurated on 05-11-1956.
The Kerala High Court has made an interesting commitment to the historical backdrop of courts in India through two of its Judges – Justice Anna Chandy was the first lady High Court Judge in India and Justice M. Fathima Beevi was the first lady Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
The foundation stone for the new building, currently lodging the High Court of Kerala was laid on 14 March 1994 by the then Chief Justice of India, Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah and the construction was completed in 2005. The completed High Court building was inaugurated by the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Y. K. Sabharwal on 11 February 2006.
History of the judicial system in Kerala
The present legal framework in Kerala has its foundations tracing all the way back to the times of the rulers of the Kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin. The judicial system in the Kingdom of Cochin (now Ernakulam) and in the Kingdom of Travancore (now Thiruvananthapuram) was highly varied.
In the Kingdom of Travancore, Colonel Munro who was the British Resident in Travancore, prescribed fundamental guidelines to be passed for the rearrangement of the Courts.
Till the time of Colonel Munro, there was no provision for the administration of justice in the form of independent Tribunals. In order to reform the Judicial System, he submitted a regulation to reorganize the courts.
Her Highness the Rani who insisted upon the preservation of the trial by ordeal passed the Regulation in 1811 giving assent to Munro’s propositions. Munro set up five district courts in A.D 1811 at Padmanabhapuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Mavelikkara, Vaikom and Aluva.
In the Kingdom of Cochin, Desavazhis and Naduvazhis (regional rulers) were empowered to settle the disputes following the prevailing customary law and the monarch himself would look into matters of grave importance. In 1812, for the first time, law courts were set up under the Diwanship of Colonel Munro, in the Kingdom of Cochin.
The principal Subordinate Courts (Sub Courts) were set up by Colonel Munro at Trichur (now the district of Thrissur) and Tripunithura.
After the Indian Independence, the princely States were merged into ‘Tiru-Kochi’ on 1 July 1949 and the present-day high court system was established in accordance with the Constitution of India.
Article 214 of the Constitution of India reads as follows “There shall be a High Court for each State”, so does the State of Kerala.
Article 230 enables the Indian Parliament, by law to extend the jurisdiction of a High Court to any Union Territory. By the dint of this, the High Court of Kerala also has jurisdiction over the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court has got the power, throughout the territories in which it exercises its jurisdiction( State of Kerala and Union Territory of Lakshadweep), to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories, directions, orders or writs including writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari or any of them for the enforcement of fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution and for any other purpose.
The exercise of the powers of the High Court of Kerala is regulated by the provisions contained in the Kerala High Court Act, 1958 and the Rules of the High Court of Kerala, 1971.
The Kerala High Court has Original, Appellate as well as Revisional jurisdiction in both civil as well as criminal matters apart from the power to answer reference under certain statutes. The High Court transacts its business, judges sitting single, in the division and in specifically referred matters in Full Bench.
Judicial set up
The High Court transacts its judicial functions through the Judges sitting in Single, in Division Bench and in specifically referred cases in Full Bench and also in Larger Bench. The power of distribution of work in courts vests with the Chief Justice and the work is distributed depending on the subject matter of the cases.
The structure of sittings and work division is published on a daily basis.
There are altogether 13 Judicial Sections in the High Court to deal with 50 types of cases filed in the court from filing to issue of Certified Copy of Judgment / Orders. The Cause List of cases posted before different Courts / Chambers are also published daily and weekly.
Kerala Judicial Academy
To confer training to Judicial Officers and Staff of the Judiciary, Kerala Judicial Academy is functioning in the High Court.
Besides the Directors, there are 10 Joint Registrars, 14 Deputy Registrars, a Public Relations Officer, a Protocol Officer, a P.S to Chief Justice and a Finance Officer in the rank of Deputy Registrar, 28 Assistant Registrars and a Chief Librarian. More than 1000 employees work in the academy to shape the young legal galaxy to work in accordance with the procedures of the High Court.
- High Court of Kerala [http://highcourtofkerala.nic.in]
- Rajitha T, Royalty, Women and Politics in Travancore, Available Here
- HIGH COURT OF KERALA (hckerala.gov.in)