Judicial officers have been in the throes of a severe space crisis since September 2021 and a visit from DT Next revealed that these offices cannot accommodate more than two people at a time. Left with poor ventilation, practicing social distancing or hiring a government agent is a luxury for these learned lawyers, who defend the government in civil matters.
According to a senior justice official who is appearing for the government in the city’s civil courts, his assigned office is in a dilapidated, filthy condition with no ventilation.
“As we represent the government, various officers, including the IAS and IPS, visit our offices. But we couldn’t accommodate them inside our office because of the space crisis. The tightening of the space often forces us to meet outside to discuss cases and legal proceedings, ”the senior legal officer told DT Next, wishing not to be named.
Another young officer questioned the stability of the building and pointed out that cracks in the ceiling often posed a threat to inmates.
“If a government building collapses or endangers public life, we defend the state in court and also take up the solutions given by the court, but the irony is that there is no respite for we. We could not reveal or divulge this apathy in public, ”lamented another government judicial officer. The heavy downpour also floods the HC campus, making working conditions difficult, ”he noted.
“There is a space available near the Madras HC police station. We ask the HC to initiate the construction works of a chamber dedicated to all government judicial officers who work inside the courts of the HC Madras campus ”, said a judicial officer under cover of anonymity. The working conditions of the legal fraternity practicing in the lower courts are even worse. These desks also lack space to store law books and case files, meaning there’s no decent space to dine or have coffee with a friend. Most of us prefer to eat outside for lack of space, deplores the judicial officer.
Asked about funds for new buildings or renovation of the existing structure, an official source said the government needs to allocate more funds for the Madras HC. “Madras HC will subsequently sanction funds for the construction of new buildings for existing judicial officers,” the source said.
It should be noted that the Chennai City Public Prosecutor’s Office, five additional public prosecutors and other legal officers from the ministries have their offices inside the High Court campus.