Family court on Madras high court reopens

CHENNAI, 3 Mar 2009 : The family court and small causes court complexes, which were the epicentre of the February 19 violence on the Madras High Court campus, reopened on Monday, but there was little activity. Surrounded by smashed glass pieces, broken notice boards and furniture, many judges of the subordinate judges held sessions which lasted barely 30 minutes. The principal family court judge, who tried to conduct court in an open space within the complex, had to wind up the proceedings after some advocates resented him holding court outside while his own court hall was in a shambles. "We had to keep the premises as it is till the CBI team completed inspection on Sunday. We hardly had time to clean up the premises," said a court official. "In any case, fixing the damaged windows and notice boards would require a few weeks," she added. Hundreds of litigants and advocates walked on a carpet of glass pieces, debating the correctness of long adjournments given by courts. The first additional family court had posted all the cases listed between February 20 and March 2 to the second week of May. The second additional family court posted such cases to April. While advocates wondered whether the intervening summer holidays would further delay the hearing, a litigant commented, "good for me, as I do not want my case to end early." Perhaps hoping for an end to the standoff on March 3 when the Supreme Court is slated to take up the matter, the family courts had put up notices stating that judgments in orders-reserved cases would be delivered on March 4. The main entrance gates of the family court and the sessions court premises remained locked, owing to the uncleared wreckage. Court staff, advocates and the litigant public used smaller side entrances to visit offices and courts. Though several court staff and officials were ready to discuss the February 19 incidents, they did not want to explain as to why neither the injured court staff nor section officials lodged any complaint with police. The agitating lawyers of the Madras High Court continued their dharna outside the main gate, demanding suspension of top state police officials. With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear the batch of cases relating to the February 19 violence on Tuesday, Bar leaders were busy formulating their strategy. "Unless we get a favourable interim order, at least against some of the identified and named police officials, we cannot return to normal work," said the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association president S Prabakaran.
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