The Madras High Court recently in the case of The High Court of Judicature at Madras, rep. by its Registrar General v. Thirumalai ruled that the administration side of the High Court has no power to seek review of any orders passed by the judicial side. Justice PT Asha dismissed a review application filed by the Madras High Court through its Registrar General seeking that a judgement passed by the Court in May last year be reviewed. The judgement sought to be reviewed was passed by Justice Asha herself last year directing the Tamil Nadu (TN) government to effect necessary amendments to the TN Motor Vehicles Accident Claims Tribunals Rules with regard to payment of court fees. She then sent the judgement to the office of the then-acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court for it to be circulated to all tribunals who subsequently sent it to the administrative committee of the High Court to check if the judgement needed to be reviewed.
The present review application claimed that the judgement caused prejudice to the claimants. To this, Justice Asha asked how the administrative side of the High Court could seek a review of a judgement when it was not the aggrieved party. She said that it amounted to the Court issuing a writ against itself and wondered if the Court was acting like “Janus,” the two-faced God from Greek mythology.
The Court mentioned Article 215 of the Constitution which gives a small window to the courts to correct its errors. Such right, however, was conferred on the High Court only on its judicial side and “Therefore, the present petition seeking leave to review which cannot be entertained as it would amount to undermining the Judicial fibre whose touchstone is its fierce independence and to discharge its duty without any kind of fear or favour.”
The Court further issued guidelines to regulate the exemption of court fees under the MV Act until any further amendment. These guidelines inter alia mandated that claimants seeking such exemption must submit an affidavit saying they do not possess the wherewithal to pay the court fee despite having a salaried income and this affidavit must be sworn before the Notary.