The Madras High Court while hearing a review application seeking to review an order passed by it on its judicial side has held that the administrative side of the High Court cannot seek a review of the judgment to which it is not a party.

A Single Bench of Justice P.T. Asha said, “I am faced with a rather strange conundrum of the High Court on its Administrative side seeking leave to review an order passed by it on its judicial side, particularly when the High Court is not even a party to the proceedings leave alone an aggrieved party. Is this Court therefore confronting a two faced JANUS? … the present petition seeking leave to review which does not come within the parameters supra, 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 said review application was filed by the Registrar General in relation to the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Accident Claims Tribunals Rules regarding the payment of court fees.

Advocate M. Santhanaraman and Amicus Curiae Sharath Chandran represented the appellant while Special Government Pleader Edwin Prabhakar represented the respondents.


The High Court on considering the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and its rules had passed an order stating that in order to avail the exemption from paying Court fees in an appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the provisions contemplated under Order XXXIII and XLIV had to be followed and the exemption in so far the claim petitions before the Tribunal is concerned, it would be at the discretion of the Presiding Officer.

The following issues arose before the Court:

1. Whether the provisions of Rule 24 would apply to Appeals under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act without giving proof of the indigent circumstances.

2. Whether the petitioners/claimants who have obtained exemption can withdraw the amounts deposited without paying the Court Fees.

The High Court in the above context observed, “To appreciate the petition now before this Court, namely, a petition seeking leave to review the order dated 05.05.2022, it is necessary to set out the facts in the various petitions filed seeking exemption from the payment of Court fees which form the backdrop for the review. … The incongruous situation that has now been placed before this Court is that this Court without being aggrieved over its own order is now being directed by an Administrative Resolution to review its order.”

The Court asserted that an administrative order passed by the High Court is subject to judicial scrutiny and not vice versa.

“In the instant case this Court had directed the guidelines to be circulated to all the Tribunals and therefore in keeping with the orders passed in HCP.No.1306/2001 the Office Note has been placed before the Chief Justice for orders for circulating the same as the Chief Justice is the Administrative Head of the Judiciary in the State and guidelines relating to procedure is issued under his name”, said the Court.

The Court also referred to the case of C.Ravichandran Iyer v. Justice A.M.Bhattacharjee and Others (1995) 5 SCC 457, wherein the Judges answered the question - Whether judicial individualism needs protection.

“… the direction asking for the affidavit to be sworn before a notary public is only to ensure its authenticity. Therefore, the need to review these guidelines that too by the Court which is not the aggrieved party does not arise”, the Court noted further.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the review application.

Cause Title- The High Court of Judicature at Madras v. Thirumalai & Ors.

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