Lawyers demand allocation of more judges to Madurai Bench

Regular proceedings in the Madras High Court Bench here got disrupted on Tuesday due to a boycott call given by Bar associations for the second day demanding allocation of one-third of total strength of High Court judges to the Bench.

About 100 lawyers led by Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Bar Association (MMBA) president W. Peter Ramesh Kumar and Madurai Bench High Court Advocates Association (MBHAA) president M. Thirunavukarasu also staged a sit-in protest inside court hall number two.

The advocates initially had an interaction with the administrative judge Justice R. Banumathi in the open court and prevailed upon her to give a written undertaking with regard to allocation of judges as well as filling up of court staff vacancies in the Bench. After the senior judge retired to her chamber for a meeting with other judges, they remained inside court hall all through the day. They even had lunch, tea as well as snacks in the court hall after overcoming an objection raised by some court staff.

Later in the day, a group of judges met the lawyers and assured to take steps for increasing the strength of judges in the Bench from 14 to 16. They also said that the Chief Justice, M.Y. Eqbal, would visit the Bench soon to hear grievances of the Bar. Even after that, the lawyers refused to withdraw their agitation. They insisted on a concrete solution to their problem. The agitators left the court hall only at around 4 p.m. after deciding to meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss further course of action.

Some of the lawyers stated that there was no point in citing shortage of bungalows as a reason for not deputing more number of judges. They pointed out that much of the infrastructure in the court was not being put to good use.

According to them, Court Hall number one as well as bungalow number one reserved for the Chief Justice and kept under lock and key for most part of the year, could be thrown open to other judges too and could be vacated whenever the Chief Justice happened to visit the Bench. Similarly, the court administration had created four additional court halls, apart from 12 built originally, in the administrative building. But three of the four new halls remained vacant for a long time. These halls should also be put to better use.

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