After around 100 days of restricted functioning, the Madras High Court is all set to resume full-fledged operations from July 6, Monday. All the judges will resume hearing petitions through video-conferencing from Monday.
The court is currently functioning with just eight judges, hearing only emergency cases due to the COVID-19 lockdown since March 25. All the judges who will resume duties on July 6 will be hearing cases -- both new petitions and pending cases -- via video-conferencing mode.
Since March 25, two benches with two judges each were hearing Public Interest Litigations and habeas corpus petitions, while four other judges were dealing with bail, anticipatory bail and other cases individually.
Madras High Court had resumed physical hearing in the first week of June, with several precautions viz. not permitting litigants and advocate staff to accompany the lawyers inside the court premises; allowing only lawyers with listed cases to enter the premises; and restricting the entry and exit from the court campus to one gate. However, the physical functioning of the court had to be suspended within a few days after a few judges and court staff members tested positive for coronavirus. Since frequent complaints about technical glitches and other interferences during the arguments were raised by some advocates who were pushing for resumption of open court hearings, the Chief Justice of Madras High Court, AP Sahi conducted an all-judge meeting to assess the functioning of the court during the pandemic.
Based on the meeting, it was decided that six benches with two judges each and 27 single-judge benches in Madras High Court will resume functioning from July 6. Similarly, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court will function with two benches of two judges each and nine single-judge benches from July 6. The judges can opt to hear the petitions through video-conferencing from the court or from their residences.