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“It is unlikely you would get through the first group. You should switch to the third group.” This is what Aadhiyan’s mother told him when he went to Class 12. Now Additional Civil Judge at Tiruppur District, 26-years-old Aadhiyan says he has come this far because he chose to change his life, drawing lessons from what he was seeing and hearing.
Aadhiyan hails from Chettiyapatti village near Usilampatti in Madurai district. His father is a farm labourer while mother tends to cattle. He is the youngest among five brothers in the family. He says he was an average student in school. His Class 10 score was 355 out of 500. Though he opted for the first group, he later changed to the third group as advised by his mother.
He still remained an average student and was more interested in roaming around with friends rather than studying. Frustrated, the headmaster summoned Aadhiyan’s father and suggested that he collect the transfer certificate. His father was crestfallen and Aadhiyan, for the first time, wanted to prove his worth. He gathered himself up and studied sincerely. When the Class 12 results were announced, Aadhiyan was found to have secured 999 marks and the school first rank as well.
Taking advice from one of his brothers, Aadhiyan enrolled in Madurai Law College. But his average-student-stint continued in the college and he was summoned by the principal this time. After getting an earful, Aadhiyan decided to prove his mettle again. He participated in a state level essay competition and won a gold medal. Aadhiyan considers it a proud moment when Justice MM Sundaresh, presently at Supreme Court, presented him the gold medal.
Aadhiyan realized the power of law during one incident in his fourth year. The management denied permission to conduct ‘Samathuva Pongal’ (communal harmony pongal) on campus and Aadhiyan approached the High Court filing a Writ. The High Court directed the college to permit the event. It was a turning point in Aadhiyan’s life.
Frustrated, the headmaster summoned Aadhiyan’s father and suggested that he collect the transfer certificate. His father was crestfallen and Aadhiyan, for the first time, wanted to prove his worth.
During his final year, Aadhiyan realized that the state government provides reservation for Tamil medium students in government jobs. Having studied in Tamil medium from school, he realized the prospects. But he found that the medium of teaching would be mentioned as English in Transfer Certificates though he studied his degree in Tamil medium. He decided to take it up with college management.
College management, however, stated that it was the norm since 1995. Aadhiyan was adamant to collect his certificate with medium of teaching as Tamil. He approached higher officials and his demand was turned down. He filed a writ in the High Court. The court ruled in favour of Aadhiyan and directed the college to provide him with a degree.
The college management went for an appeal but he won the legal battle there too. Aadhiyan was an exception to collect his certificate in this manner among the students who passed between 1995 and 2012. Once he completed law, Aadhiyan decided to practice in Madras High Court. He thought it would give him an exposure in English which is the court language in High Courts.
The senior advocates whom Aadhiyan approached pointed out his impediment in language and directed him to take care of the lower courts’ affairs. But he was determined to practice in the high court and decided to move to the Madurai Bench.
Senior advocates at Madurai were encouraging. They assured him that he would get through the language issue gradually. As a junior advocate, he started appearing for the cases where the seniors were absent. Aadhiyan recalls an interesting incident during this time. Appearing in a case, he presented the prayer and the judge pointed out the mistakes in English. Aadhiyan explained his Tamil medium background to the judge.
Judge hearing Aadhiyan’s case, was impressed. He corrected the mistakes in his prayer and encouraged Aadhiyan with positive remarks. Aadhiyan started working on his language. He paid attention to the English terms used by his seniors and started learning. During this time, he also started doing pro-bono work which earned him a reputation. He appeared in over 300 cases in two years and the exposure honed his skills.
Appearing in a case, he presented the prayer and the judge pointed out the mistakes in English. Aadhiyan explained his Tamil medium background to the judge.
He stumbled upon the announcement for Judges selection under the Public Service Commission. Law graduates below the age of 27 could appear for the examination. If in case of exceeding this age, the applicant should have practiced for three years. Aadhiyan had two years of experience and was below the age bar.
Aadhiyan appeared for the examinations and cleared the prelims with ease. His two years of experience and handling more than 300 cases turned out to be a boon. But the Mains were going to be tough. Candidates typically attend coaching programmes at a centre. Aadhiyan did not have the means to pay the coaching fee of Rs 30,000.
He paid Rs 8,000 and attended two days classes in a week unlike regular candidates. He used his courtroom experience to augment the coaching. Aadhiyan cleared the exams and was appointed as Additional Civil Judge at Tiruppur District.
As an average candidate, Aadhiyan faced discouragement all through his life. He had to fight with his own college management. Lack of English knowledge was an impediment but he continued learning. “English is a language and we all should learn it that way. Learning in your mother tongue improves cognitive abilities. The state government should encourage the mother tongue as a medium of teaching in schools,” he said.
He urged students to pay attention towards reading habit. “Students should read newspapers and books and the reading habit will help them go a long way,” he added.
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