Holiday family courts, the first of their kind in the country, were inaugurated at the Madras High Court premises here on Saturday.

Declaring open the new holiday family court, Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal said the objective of opening such a court was to speed up cases pertaining to family disputes, which were pending in three family courts in the city. The Chief Justice said there had been a steep hike in family dispute cases, including divorce, and petitions for restoration of conjugal rights in the last nine years. At present, the three family courts in the city were unable to cope with the increasing number of cases. With a view to clear the cases, the holiday family court was set up. The High Court had already written to the State Government to sanction two more family courts for Chennai city and one in all the district headquarters for early clearance of family disputes. He allayed the fears of the advocates regarding the functioning of the courts on holidays. There was no compulsion for judges and advocates to appear on holidays and there should be mutual consent among the judge, advocates and litigant public for hearing any case on a holiday. He also suggested opening a help line in the State Legal service and a counselling centre to solve minor disputes between the couples.

Law Minister Durai Murugan said the State Government had set up 159 courts and appointed 190 civil judges after he had assumed charge as the Minister. The government had been allotting substantial funds for providing additional infrastructure in court buildings. Reacting to a demand by Justice Elipe Dharma Rao for providing air-condition facilities in district courts, the Minister said hereafter the cost of air-condition would be included in the estimate of new court buildings. Lauding the Chief Justice for mooting the holiday family court proposal, the Minister said empowerment of women was one reason for increasing the number of family disputes. Couples were seeking divorce even for flimsy reasons. The holiday court, he hoped would go a long way in quick disposal of the cases.

F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, High Court Judge, said the holiday court would help litigant public, especially those who were employed. Most of the litigants who were employed and their children were unable to attend court on working days. The court would help advocates to concentrate on cases relating to family disputes if the hearings were on holidays. He also assured the court staff that they would be given incentives for attending the courts on holidays.

Justice Elipe Dharma Rao regretted that the condition of many district courts was not conducive to the functioning of the judiciary. It was unfortunate that many district judges were not provided with AC chambers.

Justice D. Murugesan in his welcome address said in city, family courts alone, 12,659 cases were pending and the courts had a duty to clear the cases as early as possible. B. Ramalingam, Principal Judge, Family Court, Chennai, presented a note on holiday courts.

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