Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Holiday court to suit working couples

Keeping in mind the difficulties faced by working couples fighting divorce or child custody battles in family courts, the Madras high court has announced that ‘‘holiday courts’’ will function in the city from July 10.

A brainchild of Chief Justice M Yusuf Eqbal, these courts will address the needs of over 12,000 litigants, most of them employed, contesting divorce, child custody and maintenance cases in the three family courts in Chennai. The decision was taken ‘‘considering the huge pendency of matrimonial disputes in family courts in Chennai, and also having regard to the inconvenience caused to the litigants working in multinational companies and other organizations,’’ a statement from the court said.

If well-received, the facility will be extended to Sundays and also to the remaining three family courts in the mofussil areas, HC registrar-general S Vimala said.

The holiday court concept was mooted by Justice Eqbal at the meeting of Union law minister M Veerappa Moily with Chief Justices and law secretaries from south India on Sunday. Impressed, Moily said he would introduce it at the national level too.

On Tuesday, HC registrar-general Vimala told reporters that the first holiday court in the country will be inaugurated by the Chief Justice on June 10. Six family courts in Tamil Nadu are handling over 16,000 cases, said Vimala. Of them, most litigants are employed couples, who find it difficult to attend counselling on working days. ‘‘Counselling can be done leisurely on holidays, and there will be no need for adjournments,’’ Vimala said.

The principal judge for family courts here, Ramalingam, said that up to June end this year, 1,420 divorce cases had been filed in Chennai. In addition, there were 506 divorce pleas on mutual consent, 354 applications for restitution of conjugal rights, 53 child custody cases and 281 petitions for maintenance.

Noting that the move would expedite the disposal of pending cases, Vimala said it would also minimize adjournments on the ground of non-availability of leave on working days. Judges could preside over the courts by rotation initially and, if need be, ad hoc judges could be appointed, she added.

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