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Women lawyers oppose holiday court proposal


CHENNAI: Chief justice M Yusuf Eqbal’s proposal to unveil holiday courts’ to hear family court cases on Saturdays has evoked mixed reactions from advocates and their associations.

While the two top associations — Madras High Court Advocates Association and the Tamil Nadu Advocates Associations — have made it clear that they had no objection to the proposal so long as advocates were not forced to accept the idea, two others forums — Women Lawyers Association and the Federation of Women Lawyers in Tamil Nadu — have condemned the suggestion.

Pointing out that several states had six-day week for the judiciary, the MHAA president RC Paul Kanagaraj said that courts could function on Saturdays only with the consent of the advocates concerned. “We, however, are not in favour of any court works on Sundays. We deprecate any move to extent holiday courts to Sundays as well,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

S Prabakaran, president of TNAA, said holiday courts, as a policy, should not be thrust upon advocates. “If counsel appearing for their clients are willing to participate in holiday court proceedings, let them do so. We will not oppose it. However, constitution of more courts to hear family cases would avoid unnecessary complications,” he said.

The WLA, on its part, condemned the proposal and called upon the authorities to withdraw the proposal forthwith. An extraordinary general body meeting of the WLA was convened on Wednesday, and resolutions against the proposal were adopted at the meeting, according to the WLA president D Prasanna. “We resolve to take necessary steps for sanction of more additional family courts for speedy disposal of pending cases,” it said.

The federation president, K Santhakumari, said no quality justice could be expected from judges who were stressed out in the first five working days of the week, and then asked to preside over holiday courts. She denied the claim that most of the adjournments in family courts was due to non-availability of leave for the litigants. “It is wrong to assume that all litigants before family courts are working couples or those from IT background,” she said, adding that the authorities must focus on simplifying the procedural formalities in family courts. “Parties need not be made to visit courts for every hearing and adjournments. It is enough if they are present for counselling, trial and examination,” Santhakumari said.

Former CBI counsel Gita Ramaseshan said the higher judiciary too should think of working on holidays. Whereas rights activist Sudha Ramalingam said it was a short-sighted idea, which would not bring the desired results. A delegation of advocates is likely to meet chief justice Eqbal on Thursday to press for withdrawal of the proposal.

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