At the Tiruvottiyur complex, contaminated runoff seeps through manholes after showers

Law practitioners, including advocates and magistrates, and a large number of litigants at the combined court complex in Tiruvottiyur were taken by surprise on Tuesday as they had to wade through knee-deep sewage water in the complex.

Following the heavy showers in the city on Monday night and early on Tuesday, excess rainwater had seeped through manholes into the underground drainage system in the court complex. This had resulted in the overflow of the contaminated water that inundated the entire complex.

“Every monsoon, we face overflow of sewage from the manholes into the court premises. Despite complaining to the local Metrowater officials, no permanent measures have been put in place,” said D. Vinayaga Moorthy, president, Tiruvottiyur Advocates’ Association.

Built more than 50 years ago, the main building houses the magistrate court that deals with criminal cases, a separate chamber for the judge and an office room for clerks and assistants engaged in routine documentation works. Due to lack of space for a separate subordinate court on the 9,600-sq ft court complex, the erstwhile advocates’ association room currently serves as one. It handles civil cases including property disputes, money debt, cheating and other petty offences.

Every day, on an average, more than 300 cases come up at the combined court complex and more than 250 advocates present their cases. But the complex lacks basic facilities. Both the judges’ chambers in the two courts are cramped and have leaking roofs. In the subordinate court hall, most of the false ceiling panels are damaged and are in danger of collapsing.

“There are no proper toilets or water taps for litigants and advocates at the court complex. Also, there is no waiting hall for litigants inside the complex and this poses a problem especially during rains,” said S. Vedavalli, a litigant.

Advocates and court officials complained that due to the leaking roof, rainwater had damaged many important case documents and other files.

Further, they pointed out, many under trial prisoners were brought to the court with a strong police escort but the court neither had the facility to ensure the prisoners’ safety nor adequate space for the policemen to wait until the trial is completed.

“After years of pressure from the local advocates, the State government identified 1.25 acres of land in Ernavoor near Tiruvottiyur a few years ago for a large combined court complex with two sub-courts and other subordinate courts. However, it is yet to pass the necessary government order and hand over the land to the judiciary,” said an advocate, K. Ellumalai.

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