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Judges in all courts are allowed to enter court premises and conduct virtual hearings from the court or from chambers. Entry of lawyers to court premises remain barred, save in courts holding limited physical hearings
As the third leg of the national lockdown ends, it has been notified that district courts in nine districts of Tamil Nadu commence physical hearings on a trial basis.
Whereas Judges in all courts, including the High Court Benches, have been allowed to enter court premises, the hearings will largely continue through video conferencing.
Lawyers' entry into court premises remains barred, save for the few courts where physical hearings are being gradually re-introduced. Two notifications to this effect have been issued.
The district headquarter-courts in Dharmapuri, Nilgiris, Krishnagiri, Tiruvarur, Theni Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam, Karuru and Sivagangai have been permitted to commence limited, physical hearings from tomorrow onwards.
Only five lawyers will be permitted to attend a hearing, including the State counsel. These lawyers can only enter the court premises at the time slot allotted. Otherwise, the general entry of lawyers, litigants and others into the court premises remain prohibited.
Chambers, libraries, canteens etc. will remain closed. Lawyers who are allowed entryare expected to maintain social distancing norms when inside the court campus. Further they can only enter the court premises for a specific time period to attend a specific hearing.
As for the High Court, the Principal Bench at Chennai will continue hearing matters only through video conferencing. Notably, from June 1, all Benches of the Court will conduct virtual hearings, as opposed to the limited number of Benches that were hearing cases following the first lockdown until now.
On the other hand, both physical and virtual hearings would be conducted by judges of the Madurai Bench. Up to ten Benches may hear matters in open court. Where matters are being heard in open court, only five advocates will be permitted entry at a time in one court hall, including the state counsel.
Further, only ten matters would be listed in a day for courts hearing matters physically. Lawyers will be permitted entry only for the time that their presence is required in court. If the conduct of the physical court in anyway comes in the way of safety or poses a COVID-19 threat, this relaxation for physical hearings may be recalled.
Advocates above the age of 65 years have been asked to abstain from coming to any court during this time.
The situation will be reviewed after two weeks.