After halting physical hearings and directing the closure of lawyers' chambers at the High Court premises over the weekend due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the Madras High Court orally observed on Monday that these restrictions may be partially lifted later this week. .Hybrid and virtual hearings before the Court presided by Chief Justice Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy today witnessed counsel in different matters requesting adjournments so that the respective cases may be heard physically. ."This week we are closing for a bit," the Chief Justice told a counsel this morning, citing a rise of COVID-19 cases. "Next week, hopefully, we’ll be able to open up and have the kind of physical hearings we were having," he added..In the afternoon, the Court took up a case moved by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) challenging the constitutional validity of Section 60(c) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which allows the government to prescribe classes of voters who may vote through postal ballots. .This matter had been fixed earlier for a physical hearing. The counsel told the Court today that it would be more appropriate if the case were heard physically..Accordingly, upon a the petitioner-counsel's request, the Court listed the matter for physical hearing on March 15. .In the course of the brief hearing, Chief Justice Banerjee also informed that half of the lawyers' chambers may be opened on Thursday and that by Monday, physical hearings may resume. .The Chief Justice, however, also expressed concern that overcrowding in the court and the failure to adhere to COVID-19 distancing norms had contributed to the COVID-19 surge. ."If that happens, we will have to roll back," the Chief Justice pointed out, adding that there are many people who don't have any business found loitering in court corridors. ."There are several government advocates who got COVID-19," he said, while also referring to a case where a lawyer tested COVID-19 positive after only having spent three and a half hours in the Court to argue a matter.."We have to take measures for everybody, not only for lawyers - our registry, our staff, you lawyers and then us," Chief Justice Banerjee orally observed. .He informed that the Court may notify later this week that in particular cases, where the Bench feels that a physical hearing is necessary, physical hearings may resume. This may be done on Wednesday or Thursday. "Thursday, we will have physical hearings starting again - but where bench specifies physical hearing is necessary. All other matters will be in the present virtual system," the Chief Justice said.."First we must have life before we have other rights," he added, after adjourning the postal ballot case. .The High Court had notified last Saturday that it would only be conducting hybrid and virtual hearings from today onwards in view of a rise in COVID-19 cases. Prior to this, some Benches of the High Court had also been hearing cases in only physical mode after COVID-19-related restrictions were relaxed earlier this year. .Madras High Court to discontinue physical hearings from March 8 after surge in COVID-19 cases .By Saturday's notification, all advocates other than government law officers, advocate clerks, litigants and parties in person were prohibited from entry into the High Court premises. The same notification also intimated that lawyers' chambers would be closed. .In protest, the Madras High Court Advocates' Association (MHAA) and the Women Lawyers' Association (WLA) had issues resolutions for a court boycott today.