Covid hits regular functioning of Madras High Court

Chennai: Following fresh surge of Covid cases in the State, the Madras High Court is once again conducting its proceedings through virtual or hybrid mode from last week, a decision which has made some sections of advocates and litigants unhappy.

The decision was taken in view of the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in some pockets of Chennai and other parts of the Tamilnadu.

According to a notification issued by the Registrar General of the Madras High Court, the decision has been taken as a precautionary measure and to ensure a safe working environment.

The physical court hearing that had been partially allowed has been now switched to virtual and hybrid mode in both the High Court and its Madurai Bench, said the notification from the Registry.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee has ordered all judges in the principal seat of the High Court as well as those in Madurai Bench to hear cases either virtually, with both the government counsel and the private lawyers appearing through videoconference, or through the hybrid mode where only the government counsel would appear in a physical court.

Law officers and the standing counsel alone would be permitted inside the court campus.

The entry of all other advocates, advocate clerks, litigants and parties-in-person inside the High Court premises is prohibited. All the law chambers are also closed.

Unhappy with the notification, the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) and the Women Lawyers Association (WLA) had called for a boycott of courts and tribunals last week.

According to MHAA president G Mohana Krishnan, the lawyers had been finding it very difficult to continue their profession without being allowed access to their chambers. “It is unfair to close down the chambers within a week of opening it,” he added.