The Madras high court on Thursday trashed a public interest litigation moved by an advocate seeking to resume full-fledged physical hearing at both the principal seat in Chennai and the bench at Madurai as an “ill-advised and utterly meaningless petition made by a uniformed advocate and against public interest”.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee sitting along with Justice S. Ananthi at the Madurai bench said “The petitioner must be reminded about the entirety of the restrictions clamped by the State following the lockdown imposed in the wake of the second surge of the pandemic, has not been lifted.” “There is no conclusive scientific opinion as of date as to when a third or subsequent surge may arrive and the number of positive cases has been going up in a neighbour state at an alarming level over the last few days,” the bench said.
Further, pointing out that this court has continuously warned that in such a situation, in the public interest and to safeguard the health of all concerned, one must err on the side of caution, the bench said “As it is, there is the experience of the havoc that was wrecked by the second surge of a pandemic since the country was caught unaware.” “Experts’ advice that the only protection is for vaccination to be completed so that even if the virus attacks an individual the chance of fatality would stand reduced,” the bench led by the Chief Justice stressed while clarifying that the courts have been substantially open in the State including the high court at its principal seat and in Madurai.
“Some form of physical hearing is possible upon permission being obtained. As far as Virtual hearing is concerned, the performance at Madurai appears to be much better than at the principal bench,” the bench held.
“While it is appreciated that not all persons, particularly parties intending to appear in person, may have access to smartphones or laptops or other gadgets to participate in the virtual hearing, maters are being taken up and disposed of on regular basis without a dismissal for default or ex-party orders being made,” the court reiterated.
“Uniformed petitions of the present kind are eminently avoidable if only to allow the court to concentrate on matters which require attention and not waste time on frivolous and the fanciful,” the bench said in its order while directing the petitioner to exercise extreme restrain before invoking this extraordinary jurisdiction in public interest in future. The bench also refused to acknowledge the petitioner’s plea to open the advocates' chambers.