Courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to hold only virtual hearings until further orders

The Madras High Court has decided to continue with the present practice of hearing cases only through virtual mode until further orders. A notification issued by the court on Thursday stated that physical hearing of cases would not commence for now to avoid further spike of COVID-19 positive cases and to ensure a safe working environment inside the court premises.

The notification issued, under instructions from Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, stated that if required by the court concerned, the physical presence of law officers representing the Centre, State government and public sector undertakings alone would be allowed subject to strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols. “Entry of all other advocates, advocate clerks, litigants and parties-in-person inside the High Court premises is prohibited.”

The notification also clarified that the law chambers and Bar association libraries would remain closed and that advocates would be permitted to take the case papers and other belongings from their respective chambers on Saturday when an extensive sanitisation of the entire premises would be conducted. New case papers, however, would have to be filed in physical mode at the counters set up for the purpose.

It had also been decided that all judges of the High Court would begin hearing cases through virtual mode from Monday as against the present practice of only a limited number of benches conducting the hearings on rotation basis.

As far as the trial courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were concerned, a separate notification issued by Registrar General P. Dhanabal stated that they would also follow a similar procedure by effectively utilising the 1,063 Microsoft Teams video conference licences procured for their use. The entry of advocates and litigants inside court complexes should be restricted and they should function only with 30% staff, the notification read.

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