Courts, Judges, Lawyers and Litigants:Madras

Courts, Judges, Lawyers

Advocates of the Madras high court who have struck work for the Sri Lankan cause and as a result only worked nine days so far this year.

Till February 18, when they promised to come back to work, advocates had not put in a single day’s work this month.  With the court scheduled to work 210 days this year, that’s a lot of non-working days to compensate for.

The high court is already reeling under a backlog of over 4.5 lakh cases.  That is 43,000 cases more than what was pending when 2007 began. By the end of 2007, the number of pending cases was 4,28,832.

It’s just been piling up since then. The problem has been that even advocates who want to work have not been allowed to.

Last month the court was witness to seniors being pulled out of court rooms, in front of judges, and compelled to join the strike. At least 57 advocates have been charged for various protests including an attack on  the Bank of Ceylon.

Some years ago, when then chief justice A P Shah, responding to an advisory issued by the Supreme Court, increased the working days from 210 to 220 and cut the summer recess by a week, there was resistance from the advocates.

The move was revoked and advocates instead offered to work 15 minutes extra every day, which is why the court now sits till 4.45 pm.

Who guards the seat of justice?

Madras HC Campus Sans Security Since Feb 19

A Subramani | tnn new-picture-9

Chennai: Post February 19 violence, who is guarding Madras high court? No one.

After the court premises witnessed the worst violence in its history involving police and advocates on February 19, the entire campus has been left to take care of itself. “Luckily no untoward incident has happened on the campus during the period,” said a senior advocate.

The situation was highlighted before the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on March 3, when the Tamil Nadu government’s senior counsel Ashok Desai asked if some armed policemen, escorting remand and undertrial prisoners, could be permitted to enter the high court premises.

On his part, senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing the high court, too wanted police force for the security and day-to-day administration of the high court and other courts on the campus. The bench, however, said the (acting) chief justice of the Madras high court was at liberty to pass appropriate orders in the matter.
With the ball back on its court, the Madras high court is now debating the possibility of evolving a security plan for its premises, where not a single policeman in uniform has stepped in since the February 19 violence.
In fact, the state chief secretary has written to the high court authorities, bringing to their notice the utter lack of security at the premises at the moment. The high court building is an iconic structure, and it requires extra care, the official has said.
Pointing out that no security has been provided by police within the high court premises from February 19, he has said that the access control system introduced on January 28 too was not in operation. “I, therefore, request you to take adequate steps to ensure protection in the building and its environs from any untoward happening,” the chief secretary has said.

To begin with, authorities may permit armed policemen, escorting remand and undertrial prisoners to sessions courts, to enter the high court premises.

OPEN COURT: There is no security at the high court building since the violence

HC suspends 2 judges for not vacating houses

A Subramani | TNN

Chennai: In a development that shocked the entire subordinate judiciary in Tamil Nadu, two senior district judges were suspended from service for delay in handing over their official residential quarters after they were transferred.

The administrative decision of the Madras high court was conveyed to the principal district judge of Tuticorin district, PS Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy, and the principal district judge of Ramanathapuram, K Jayabalan, on Wednesday.

“Suspension for a non-service issue, such as residential quarters, is disproportionate, and certainly not acceptable to the subordinate judiciary,” said a magistrate, who added that the judges had children studying in Chennai.

“Imagine the plight of the children, whose annual examinations have already commenced. Worse, it is a big loss of face for the judges, who now cannot face litigants and advocates confidently,” he said. The two senior judges were not heard before their suspension, and they have been directed to hand over the keys to the flats on Pantheon Road in Egmore within 24 hours, said their colleague.

Suspension will be revoked after judges hand in the keys
Chennai: The suspension of judges PS Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy and K Jayabalan for not vacating their residential quarters after being transferred would be revoked after they hand over their residences, a HC registry official said.

While Avadi Thiagaraja Moorthy was a special judge at the court for exclusive trial of bomb blast cases and TADA cases when he was transferred, Jayabalan was the first additional family court judge when he was shifted to Ramanathapuram.

“They were transferred out of Chennai in the middle of an academic year. While responding to the high court’s eviction notice, the judges said they should be permitted to remain in occupation till April-end when the exams would end,” a resident of the judges’ quarters on Pantheon Road said. “They were even ready to remit penal rent at market rate,” he added.

“Two flats are vacant and two are occupied by HC judges, who were elevated from service. Not long ago, two district judges were permitted to remain in their quarters even one year after retirement,” he added.

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