The Madras High Court on Thursday took up a suo motu public interest litigation petition based on a letter penned by its Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and directed the State government to keep in abeyance all encroachment eviction drives, State revenue recovery measures and proceedings related to demolition of buildings.
Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and Abdul Quddhose further ordered that all other actions which were likely to give rise to an immediate litigation should also be kept in abeyance temporarily since judicial functions in courts across the State had been suspended for three weeks in view of a nationwide lockdown to fight COVID-19.
In order to prevent miscarriage of justice, the Bench invoked its powers under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction) of the Constitution and ordered that all interim orders that were to expire on or after March 20 shall stand extended till April 30 unless or otherwise they were vacated or modified earlier by a judicial order to the contrary.
All orders passed by the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction having granted bail, anticipatory bail or parole etc., for a limited period which are likely to expire on or before April 30, 2020 shall stand extended till April 30, 2020 subject to any orders passed by the said forums even before the said expiry date or thereafter, the Bench ordered.
It also reiterated a general order already passed by a Division Bench led by Justice N. Kirubakaran on March 20 directing the Chief Secretary to the State government to ensure that no eviction of any encroachment was carried out until the situation normalises and people were able to approach a court of law to ventilate their grievances, if any.
If there were any emergent situations, the government could obtain the views of Advocate General Vijay Narayan and act accordingly, the Bench led by Justice Sathyanarayanan clarified. A similar suo motu PIL petition was taken up in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court too and identical orders were passed with respect to the districts that fall under its territorial jurisdiction.