we request your Lordship to kindly make arrangements to resume physical court hearing in all courts all over Tamilnadu and Puducherry including Madras High Court and Madurai Bench of Madras High Court by adopting all safety measures for the welfare of the Advocates and litigant public. CHAIRMAN, BAR COUNCIL of tn.
R.O.C. No. 1139 of 2020 15.08.2020
The Hon’ble Chief Justice,
Madras High Court,
Chennai – 600 104.
Sub: Request to conduct open Court hearing in the Principal Seat
at High Court, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court and all
Sub-Ordinate Courts – Reg.
Ref: 1. Our letter dated 16.03.2020.
2. Our letter dated 21.04.2020.
3. Resolution No.141/2020 dated 08.05.2020.
4. Our letter vide R.O.C.No. 838 of 2020, dated 12.05.2020.
5. Our letter vide R.O.C.No. 886 of 2020, dated 02.06.2020.
6. Our letter vide R.O.C.No. 947 of 2020, dated 30.06.2020.
7. Resolution No. 150/2020, dated 11.07.2020.
Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic disease all over the world and the World Health Organisation also advised all the countries to take immediate steps to prevent some spreading over other persons. Needless to say the outbreak of Covid – 19 has left its impact on litigation in various ways, ranging from an increased used of remote hearings to general court closures, depending on the states and institutions concerned.
In particular, after the order passed by the Government of India imposing a complete nationwide lockdown, the courts have passed various orders on judicial side as well as on the administrative side to minimize as much as possible, the impact of the unprecedented Covid – 19 lockdown for litigants and their advocates.
We have sent a detailed representation vide R.O.C.No. 947 of 2020, dated 30.06.2020 for the conduct of physical hearing of cases by following safety measures. The Hon’ble High Court of Madras has also taken decision and prescribed
conditions for the conduct of cases after considering the representations received from the legal fraternity.
The Government of India as well as the Government of Tamilnadu have periodically relaxed the conditions imposed during the lockdown period. It is pertinent to point out here that day by day almost all the people are started to continue their regular work after following safety measures as per the directions of the Government and normalcy restored in most of the areas particularly in Chennai.
As a matter of fact, your Lordship has already allowed to function physical hearing in most of the District Courts except some District Courts, the Hon’ble High Court and the Hon’ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court. The legal fraternity are repeatedly demanding for the physical hearing of cases and we have also sent several representations and the same has been considered by your Lordship.
All advocates are demanding for the resumption of physical hearing in all courts in Tamilnadu and Puducherry as lockdown restrictions have hit the legal profession hard. The Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Puducherry has also passed a resolution on 11.07.2020, requesting the Hon’ble High Court to restore the physical appearance of Advocates in the Courts of Tamilnadu and Puducherry in a phased manner by duly following safety protocols specified by the State Government. Even the Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Puducherry convened a virtual meeting on 08.08.2020 with all the President/Secretaries of the Bar/Advocates Associations, they have also stated about the difficulties faced by the advocates by conducting the cases through video conferencing due to various reasons and they expressed that many advocates are struggling to make both ends meet.
All the associations are interested to have physical hearing cases in all courts in Tamilnadu and Puducherry, since they are unable to argue the cases with voluminous records through video conferencing. We are aware that the safety of the Hon’ble Judges, Advocates, Staffs and litigant public are important. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has also considered the request of the legal fraternity and started to hear cases in a phased manner. The similar method can be adopted to the courts in Tamilnadu and Puducherry also.
The following safety measures can be adopted while resuming physical courts:-
1. Thermal screening should be done to all persons entering into the court campus at the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) checking points.
2. Clerks entry/exit may be regulated and they may be permitted to keep case bundles along with the arguing advocate if necessary.
3. Entry of litigants and others may be restricted for the time being. Every advocate could be required to compulsorily leave the court room after his/her matter is over.
4. Ensure that face mask or paper tissue, sanitary material are available at all places.
5. Every person entering the court room should be necessarily compelled to sanitize their hands. All instructions given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for safety and health measures, social distancing, etc., may be strictly enforced.
6. Wearing of mask should be made compulsory for all advocates even inside the court room, and the arguing advocates can be permitted to wear a face shield.
7. Separate door for entry and exit of advocates may be ear marked.
8. Entry of advocates in the court should be confined only to the advocates whose name is printed in the cause list. The Library, Canteen, etc., to remain closed.
9. The functioning of the court hall can be minimised in order to maintain distance and avoid huge gathering.
10. Only one court should be functioned in the place where more courts are situated.
11. Centralised Air Conditioner should be avoided inside the court hall.
12. Dias of the Judges shall be covered with transparent glass in order to avoid the direct contact of others. Likewise, glass partition may be done for arguing advocates.
13. Mic facility should be increased in order to maintain the maximum distance between the advocate, Government Pleader and Judges and the Chairs, tables should be arranged accordingly.
14. Before opening of the courts, all places including court hall, sections and chambers of the advocates should be sanitized and thereafter, it should be continued twice in a day.
15. Hearing of the cases can be fixed in two phased manner, (1) physical hearing in the morning and (2) video conference in the afternoon with the consent of the both side advocates.
16. In order to avoid the crowd, the cases can be allotted to more judges in accordance with the number of filings particularly in Criminal Cases.
17. The listing of matters can be restricted to urgent motions in writs, appellate side, original side, criminal side, etc.
18. Preference may be given to Matrimonial Cases, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal Cases and Rent Control Cases involving issuance of cheques etc.,
19. One advocate on record and a Senior Advocate if engaged in the particular matter alone can be allowed inside the court hall. The advocates may be permitted to enter the court hall only at the time or just before the case is likely to be called. Thereby, the necessity of the number of the advocates to visit the court premises could also be restricted and regulated.
20. The advocates practicing in subordinate courts may be allowed to take case bundles from their chambers.
Therefore, we request your Lordship to kindly make arrangements to resume physical court hearing in all courts all over Tamilnadu and Puducherry including Madras High Court and Madurai Bench of Madras High Court by adopting all safety measures for the welfare of the Advocates and litigant public.
CHAIRMAN, BAR COUNCIL.