Chennai

HC's administrative committee to take a call on functioning of courts

Committee comprising top seven judges would meet again

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lock down from midnight to fight the pandemic COVID-19, Madras High Court officials said, the Administrative Committee comprising top seven judges would meet again to decide whether courts across the State would continue restricted hearing of cases or suspend their operations for some days.

It was only on Monday that the committee decided that all courts would continue to function and hear extremely urgent cases alone despite promulgation of prohibitory orders by the State government under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure from Tuesday. The committee ruled against shutting the doors of the court though there were requests to that effect.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justices Vineet Kothari, R. Subbiah, M. Sathyanarayanan, N. Kirubakaran, M.M. Sundresh and T.S. Sivagnanam decided that the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai as well as its Madurai Bench shall function with just two Division Benches and three single benches for next three weeks and that judges would be deputed on rotation basis.

The cause list (list of cases to be heard by the court on a given day) was also reduced from over 520 pages to just around 20 pages and the Chief Justice issued a slew of orders and circulars aimed at restricting the court proceedings and causing minimum trouble to its staff during the imposition of prohibitory orders by the State government under Section 144 of Cr.P.C.

The CJ made it clear that until the situation normalises, all anticipatory bail petitions should be filed first before the jurisdictional principal district and sessions courts. It is only if such petitions get dismissed by the district courts, should the lawyers and litigants approach the High Court, a circular issued on his instructions read.

Pointing out that public prosecutors in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai as well as its Madurai Bench would find it difficult to obtain instructions from policemen spread across the State during imposition of prohibitory orders, the Chief Justice said, it would be far easier for prosecutors in district courts to obtain instructions from the local police.

He also went around the High Court premises on Tuesday morning and made sure that social distancing was maintained in each of the seven court halls where restricted number of cases were being heard. He further ordered that each of the restricted number of seven court halls were located at a safe distance from each other to avoid crowding of lawyers in the corridors.

In a separate circular, Registrar General C. Kumarappan ordered that only minimal number of staff should be deputed for the court proceedings on rotation basis. He also informed the court staff regarding transport arrangements made by the court administration to pick them up and drop them from places close to their residence.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:24:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hcs-administrative-committee-to-take-a-call-on-functioning-of-courts/article31156963.ece

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