Madras HC restores its Madurai bench's power to hear pan-state PILs

Chennai, April 3 (IANS) The Madras High Court has allowed a revision petition filed by the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Bar Association (MMBA) seeking to restore the rights of the court's Madurai bench to hear Public Interest Litigations (PILs) related to the entire state, not just the 13 districts under its jurisdiction.

The bench of Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala and Justice R. Hemalatha recalled a particular paragraph from an order passed by the bench headed by then-Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee on March 4, 2021.

Justice Banerjee, while disposing of a PIL petition to safeguard the interests of temples all over the state, had said: "While it is appropriate to institute PILs pertaining to the districts covered by the Madurai Bench, when pan-state matters are the subject matter of any litigation, including PILs, they should be carried to the principal seat of the court."

Senior counsel M. Ajmal Khan, appearing for the MMBA, argued that it would not be appropriate to say that PILs relating to matters concerning pan-Tamil Nadu must be heard only at the main seat of the High Court.

The division bench of Chief Justice Gangapurwala and Justice Hemalatha, agreeing with the points raised by the senior counsel, said that the presidential notification issued in 2004 for the constitution of the Madurai Bench had not imposed any such restriction.

Allowing the review petition, it said: "To restrict the pan-state matters only at the principal seat would not be appropriate in view of the notification constituting the Bench at Madurai."

However, the bench also said: "If the Chief Justice feels that a particular case, instead of being heard at Madurai, is to be heard at Chennai, the same can be transferred at any point of time. However, a blanket order that when pan-state matters are the subject matter of litigation, the same should be filed only at principal seat would not be appropriate for the functioning of the Bench at Madurai."

--IANS

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