TAMIL NADU

It's business as usual from day one

MADURAI, AUG. 21. Judicial proceedings in the State have been disrupted by court boycott and intensification of the agitation by members of the bar on the issue of a Code of Conduct for lawyers.

To make matters worse, advocates in the southern districts, who have recently floated a new association, are planning a `jail bharo' from Monday.

However, distanced these developments, the sprawling campus of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court at Ulaganeri near here is bustling with activity. It is business as usual with no hiccup right from the day of its inauguration. With a strength of seven judges, a separate registry and jurisdiction over 14 districts, the Bench remains an oasis of justice at the moment. Government advocates are posted on rotation from Chennai every fortnight.

The Bench is a boon to litigants of the southern districts as they could get quick remedy at a lesser cost. Speaking to The Hindu a government counsel said, "IPC-related cases mainly from Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts and cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act are on the rise. Bail, anticipatory bail, revision and appeals also figure in the list and priority is given to speedy disposal of cases relating to the jailed accused."

Migration from Chennai

Migration of advocates, from various parts of the State to Madurai, is also increasing. Rentals and land prices in nearby localities have multiplied. The legal fraternity mainly from Chennai, mostly occupies K.K. Nagar and Anna Nagar, which fall under city limits and are nearer to the court.

M. Subash Babu has shifted his family to Madurai from Chennai.

A native of Oppilanpatti in Sivaganga district, he migrated to Chennai years ago to work in a higher judicial body.

"I completed my degree in law in Madurai but was forced to leave the place and I am happy to come back. You see, in Chennai things have come to a standstill, and I am not able to do justice to my clients. As 80 per cent of my clients are from the southern districts, I opted to switch over," he said.

Several law firms functioning in Chennai have set up their branch offices in Madurai and senior counsel are also flying to the city for sake of clients.

Infrastructure poor

Though the smooth functioning of the Bench has won laurels from all quarters, there are shortfalls too. A government advocate said not even a telephone was provided to lawyers in their chamber. "The judge asked me to communicate an order to the authorities concerned over phone, but I had to travel to a nearby village to make a call," he said.

Another advocate said that even for taking photocopies of an affidavit they had to travel for more than a kilometre. "The chambers are yet to be allotted and we are forced to carry the case bundles from court to court," he said.

If these administrative defects were removed, it would be a win-win situation for the Bench, he said.