Due to this, a different approach had to be necessarily taken for the HC’s functioning, held the administrative committee of the court that met on Friday.
The notification comes in the backdrop of at least three judges of the court reportedly testing positive for COVID-19.
“The situation has posed problems in the physical movement of the working court staff and officers of the High Court. It is likely to have an impact on the functioning of the judges as well as the security personnel. Taking into account the said problems which are on the increase, it has been considered necessary to review the mode of functioning of the High Court so as to avoid any future complications,” the notification said.
The committee found it necessary to reduce the number of staff working in the court, which in turn would reduce the movement of staff who are scattered across the city and surrounding districts, the notification said.
“In order to prevent any untoward situation is this regard at Chennai and to maintain uniformity at Madurai, the mode of functioning of video conferencing shall be limited to for urgent and emergent matters only through the functioning of two division benches and four single judges at the principal bench at Chennai, and one division bench and three single judges at Madurai bench.” Accordingly, Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R Suresh Kumar would hear all division bench writ and appellate matters while a division bench comprising Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana would hear all division bench criminal side matters, and criminal contempt and appeals relating to orders in contempt proceedings. Justice R Subramanian, Justice M Sundar, Justice Nirmal Kumar and Justice N Anand Venkatesh would sit single. This will continue from June 8 to June 14.
Bench to decide on 90-day limit for statutory bail
The Madras High Court is seized of an issue whether to grant statutory bail if the police fail to file charge sheet within the prescribed 90 days.
When the plea moved by Jayakumar, who is accused of acting as a broker involved in TNPSC Group IIA and Group IV examinations, came up Justice AD Jagdish Chandira adjourned the case by two weeks after holding that a special bench has been constituted to resolve the issue.
Owing to conflicting judgements by two judges – one of them granting bail as the statutory period had come to an end while the other denying bail holding that the period of limitation for investigation would also stand extended due to the extraordinary situation because of the pandemic, the Supreme Court had issued a general order of extension.
Based on this, Chief Justice AP Justice Sahi had sought a bench presided by Justice PN Prakash to answer the question.
Jayakumar had moved a bail plea immediately after the lockdown but was denied. Others arrested in the case sought bail because the police were unable to file charge sheet within 90 days.
Justice Jagdish Chandra also adjourned another case for cancelling interim bail granted in view of COVID to an accused charged with attempt to murder.
But the prosecution sought the court to cancel the interim bail, as the accused, Mohammed Ikram from Tirupur, has started indulging in waylaying people. The case has been adjourned to June 18 for orders regarding cancellation of interim bail.