History of High Court of Kerala High Court of Kerala History

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                Kerala is a small state on the southwest corner of the Indian Union with a total area of 38,863 Sq. Kms, having a population of 2,90,98,518. When India became free, Kerala, as we know it today, was not in the geographical map of India. It was under two Princely States Travancore and Cochin, and Malabar, which was under the direct administration of the British. The Princely States of Travancore and Cochin were integrated into the United States of Travancore Cochin on 1st July 1949. Malabar remained part of Madras Province. Under the States re-organisation Act, 1956 Travancore Cochin State and Malabar were integrated to form the State of Kerala, on 1st November 1956.

 

              High Court of Kerala came into being from 1st November 1956, with its seat at Ernakulam. Its roots go back to the Rulers of Travancore-Cochin, to Colonel Munro - the British Resident and Diwan in the Travancore State and the political agent in Cochin State- the architect of the well regulated judicial system in both these native states, to the High Court of Madras with its tradition of a hundred years and over, to the Travancore High Court, to the Cochin High Court and to the Travancore Cochin High Court.

Till the time of Colonel Munro who was the British Resident and Diwan of Travancore 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 reorganise the courts. Her Highness the Rani who insisted upon the preservation of the trial by ordeal passed the Regulation in 1811.

              

          In 1811, Zilla courts were established and in 1814, a Huzur Court (Court of Appeal) was also established. The Huzur Court was the final court of appeal. The Sadar Court replaced this court of appeal (Huzur Court) in 1861. The Sadar Court practically possessed all the powers now exercised by the High Court, it functioned from 1861 to 1881. The High Court of Travancore was established in 1887 with five Judges, one of whom was the Chief Justice with a Pandit to advise the judges on points of Hindu Law, by the illustrious sovereign Sri. Visakham Thirunal of revered memory. The first Chief Justice of Travancore High Court was Mr. Ramachandra Iyer a young man of 35 then.

 

              It was during the Diwanship of Col. Munro in 1812 A.D. that graded law courts came to be established for the first time in Cochin State. Prior to that Desavazhis and Naduvazhis settled disputes according to custom. More serious disputes were sometimes taken to the king himself. Col.Munro established two Sub Courts one at Trichur and other at Tripunithura. A Huzur court of final appeal with three judges was also established in Ernakulam. This system continued till 1835. The Huzur Court was reconstituted as the Raja's Court of Appeal and the Sub Courts were reconstituted as the Zilla Court. The Zilla Courts were given unlimited jurisdiction, but subject to confirmation by the Raja's court of appeal. It was in 1900 that the Raja's Court of appeal was reconstituted as the Chief Court of Cochin with three permanent Judges with Mr. S. Locke, Bar at Law as the first Chief Judge. Thereafter, during the Diwanship of Sri. Shanmukham Chettiyar, the Chief Court became the High Court.

 

New Building

             On the integration of  Travancore - Cochin State after independence on 1st July 1949, it was on the 7th of July 1949 that the High Court of Travancore-Cochin was inaugurated with its seat at Ernakulam. The last Chief Justice of Travancore High Court was Shri. Puthupally Krishna Pillai. Under the state re-organisation Act, 1956 Travancore Cochin State and Malabar were integrated to form the State of Kerala, on 1st November 1956.High Court of Kerala was thus established on that day. It inherited 3409 main cases from Travancore-Cochin High Court and 1504 cases from the High Court of Madras.Its territorial jurisdiction extends to the entire State of Kerala and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.

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