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Hon'ble Mr. Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar, Chief Justice


  • ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES –
    A PERSPECTIVE INTRODUCTION: The Court oriented justice delivery system a few decades back was with the limited infrastructure primarily single and functional and intended for adjudication of disputes by the Hon’ble Judges. The basic infrastructure and establishment of Courts were taken care of by the State by a meagre budgetary allocation. The requirements for establishment of District and High Court level Courts as directed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice were the role of the State. The Administrative wing of the Registry issued instructions in this regard which were implemented by the State from time to time. Due to growth in population and the spurt in litigation, there arose an acute need to enhance the infrastructure of the Courts and to address the various other issues such as: (i) undue delay in the disposal of the huge backlog of cases; (ii) improving the justice delivery system both in the High Court as well as District Judiciary; (iii) providing new and varied Courts based on the nature of litigation and the pendency thereof; (iv) providing legal assistance and legal clinics; (vi) establishing of judicial academy, etc. All of this required a lot of time and it weighed on the Chief Justice to tackle these issues. The Chief justice was therefore forced to delegate his/her powers to the Puisne Judges to assist the Chief Justice in implementing various judiciary related administrative work. The growing need of the Judiciary necessitated the Puisne Judges to rise up to the occasion and take up the administrative tasks in addition to their judicial work. In different Courts across the country, various Committees were formed from time to time based on the need of the particular Court. To implement the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court special Committees were formed, like Committee to implement the resolutions passed by the Chief Justices’/ Chief Ministers’ Conference, Committee to implement the E-Court projects, Committee to implement the directions of the National Legal Services Authority, National Court Management System etc. In this backdrop, the role of the Judge in discharge of administrative duties is relevant. BRIEF OUTLINE OF JUSTICE RAMALINGAM SUDHAKAR: Hon’ble Judge, Mr. Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar was elevated on 10th December, 2005 along with 17 other Hon’ble Judges and was sworn in by the then Hon’ble Chief Justice-Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. P. Shah. At the request of the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Justice A. P. Shah, Hon’ble Judge was entrusted with various administrative duties. This continued during the tenure of subsequent Chief Justices till Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. On the basis of faith and confidence reposed by the Hon’ble Chief Justices, His Lordship undertook various administrative duties besides discharging his judicial work. The scope of administrative work can be summarized as under: BUILDING COMMITTEE: As a Member and Chairman of the Building Committee at various period, His Lordship played a predominant role in ensuring development of infrastructure in district level Courts and the Madras High Court including the Madurai Bench. Innumerable meetings were conducted and more than 300 resolutions were passed and implemented. Resultantly, more than 40 Government orders were issued for construction of new combined court buildings. These buildings were designed/drawn/approved and constructed in record time. The new buildings were built at an estimated cost of Rs. 300 crores over a period of three years. The infrastructure of the district judiciary was fully developed by these measures during this time. It also provided for housing to judicial officers who were earlier staying in rented accommodations far away from the judicial office. These court buildings are strategically located near district Collectorate and the District Police Headquarters so as to help the citizens to access the three wings of administration easily. During his Lordship’s tenure as the Portfolio Judge of Trichy District, a 22 Court Combined Court Building at Trichy was conceived, built and inaugurated. Similarly, the District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate court building and Quarters at Valparai, was inaugurated as Portfolio Judge of Coimbatore. Besides more than two dozen combined Court buildings conceived by the Committee was opened by the respective portfolio Judges. On 04.02.2016, the Madras High Court Administrative Block building which was built in a record time, was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice. This building is a modern corporate style office with heritage style façade to merge with the heritage Court Complex. Law Officers Building: Law Officers Block (Ground + 3 Floors); Advocates Cooperative Society Ltd., Canteen; Police Control Room were conceived, when his Lordship was a Member of the Hon’ble Special Committee for High Court Car parking & environment Committee. Subsequently, as Chairman of the Madras High Court Heritage Committee, His Lordship ensured the shifting of law officers from the heritage building to the new Law Officers Block, to enable the Heritage Committee to proceed with restoration and conservation work of the 150 years old heritage building. The Guest House for Madras High Court was a great necessity considering the difficulty experienced by Judges of other Courts. In the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy Campus a fully furnished Six Suite Guest House was constructed as per plan and designed conceived by His Lordship. The plan also provided for further expansion and it is in progress. Auditorium & Museum: The proposal for construction of Auditorium and Museum in the High Court was approved when His Lordship was a member of the Committee. A 1004 Seater Auditorium, was constructed and inaugurated with all modern facilities. It is a first of its kind in the High Court Campus. The shifting of artefact, historical books, manuscripts, judgments, etc. from the Old Museum to the New Museum is in progress. The collection in the Museum traces the history of Madras High Court and the collections are rare. Digitization: Pursuant to the Resolution of the Chief Ministers and Chief Justices Conference, the issue of digitisation of Court records was taken up. A Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of His Lordship. Realizing that digitization is the key to improve the justice delivery system and to move out of the slow paper-based mode, the Committee formulated the process of digitization. The Government has accepted it and is presently under implementation. The Air conditioning system provided in the heritage building few decades back involved breaking the walls of the heritage building caused extensive damage to the doors/windows. Besides, the huge conduit pipes were structured all over the building and the Court halls like an anaconda. It was an eyesore to the beautiful Indo-Saracenic style Madras High Court Building – Hon’ble Judge involved a number of technical persons and in the course of several deliberations, suggested various steps to be taken for removing the huge Air conditioning ducts to be replaced by new and efficient Air conditioning system. A specialist in heritage conservation has been roped in for this purpose. All these developments were possible due to the best efforts put in by the Chairman and the members of the Building Committee. BUDGET / FINANCE PROPOSAL COMMITTEE: As a member of the Budget Proposal Committee, Hon’ble Judge was instrumental in preparing and settling proposals for a sum of Rs.300 Crores for construction of combined court buildings and Court attached quarters for judicial officers of various districts. In all, proposals were sent in respect of 31 District courts. All the proposals fructified during the years 2007 to 2009, which is a feather in the cap of the Madras High Court. Of the 265 Budget Proposals sent during 2014 and 2015, the Government has issued orders in respect of 69 proposals, which include (i) Constitution of 10 Additional District Courts (Fast Track Courts) one each at Theni, Paramukudi, Arani, Nagercoil, Villupuram, Palani, Mettur, Kumbakonam, Vellore and Kancheepuran; (ii) Construction of Combined Court Buildings and quarters at Dharmapuri, Tirukalikundramand Perundurai; (iii) Constitution of various Family Courts, Subordinate Courts and Judicial Magistrate Courts: (iv) Constitution of 55 Special Magistrate Courts with civil powers to try the petty cases; (v) Funds for accommodation of CISF, etc. It is to be emphasised that budget preparation for creating infrastructure for existing Courts and to construct new Court is an important function to streamline the justice delivery system. HIGH COURT LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: When His Lordship was appointed as Chairman of the High Court Legal Services Committee, the number of cases settled increased manifold. In the Five National Lok Adalats presided by the Hon’ble Judge, nearly 116 cases were settled and an amount of Rs.14.85 Crores went to the beneficiaries. After His Lordship assumed charge as the Chairman of the Committee on 17.06.2015, five Lok Adalats were conducted in the Principal Seat at Chennai. More than 405 cases got settled and the amount recorded in settlement Rs.22,42,41,463/- Similarly, in the Madurai Bench, 229 cases were disposed of and the amount settled is to the tune of Rs.8.88 Crores. That apart, the two Continuous Lok Adalats presided over by Hon’ble High Court Judges (Retd.) disposed of 329 cases during 2015 and the amount settled from June to December, 2015 is to the tune of Rs.22.42 Crores. It is to be mentioned that it was His Lordship who conceived and implemented the continuous Lok Adalats in the High Court to be headed by Hon’ble Retired Judges several years back. During the recent Chennai floods in November/December, 2015, His Lordship directed steps to be taken to arrange free transport facilities to public to attend the National Lok Adalat scheduled on 12.12.2015. The State Transport Corporations arranged free transportation to people throughout the State of Tamil Nadu to attend the Lok Adalat despite the ravages of the floods. As per the direction of His Lordship, the Secretary and the Panel of Advocates visited Central Prison, Puzhal to create legal awareness to inmates. About 115 inmates were given legal assistance during the period June to December, 2015. As a part of High Court Legal Service Committee role in reaching the people in distress, the survivors of the 2015 floods, were provided basic things like food, clothes, utensils, bedding and medicines. His Lordship ensured the distribution of relief package to approximately 1200 families. The materials were packed in compact sets and sent to the needy people in the interior villages of Cuddalore & Villupuram Districts and in places around Chennai. This was based on the request of Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, I.A.S., Secretary to Government, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department (Monitoring Officer, Cuddalore District), who was overseeing the entire distribution. These measures were taken up with the guidance of Hon’ble Madam Justice R. Banumathi, Judge Supreme Court of India and with the help of good Samaritans like the Supreme Court Bar Association, Madras High Court Lawyers, Indian Banks, etc. The State Government also took part in this endeavour. His Lordship used the High Court Legal Services as a tool to help the people in distress. JUDICIAL ACADEMY: As a Member of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy, His Lordship conceived the idea of conducting a programme called “Redefining Legal Practice for Advocates – Generation Next (0 to 10 Years)”. The Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy took up this project to impart Continuing Legal Education to young lawyers hailing from District Courts so that they will address the needs of the marginalized section of the society who require legal assistance through informed legal counsel. The programme was a resounding success. The construction and establishment of the Regional Centres of the Judicial Academy at Coimbatore and Madurai Districts was done under the active supervision of His Lordship. HERITAGE, MUSEUM, ENVIRONMENTAL AND PORTRAIT COMMITTEE: The Madras High Court is believed to be the second largest judicial complex in the world and was built in an Indo-Saracenic Style and its unique architecture has been recognized as one of the architectural wonders from ancient to modern times. The Heritage Committee was constituted to conserve and restore the impressive edifice to its original glory. His Lordship was an active member of the Heritage Committee, which was constituted during 2006. After His Lordship became the Chairman of the Heritage Committee on 25.11.2014, 18 meetings were convened as on 7.3.2016 and more than 100 resolutions were passed and implemented. The conservation and restoration work of the heritage building and structure is done meticulously by adopting the same method that was followed when the building was built 150 years ago. In order to establish a benchmark for conservation and restoration work, Rajamannar Hall a historic place in the High Court was restored with Mughal plastering, a unique method of plastering using lime and egg white to give the wall a smooth finish which is a wonder even in modern times. This work is labour intensive, laborious and a highly skilled part of the restoration work. The wooden rafters were not properly maintained and a lot of it was damaged. The damaged portions were removed and replaced with quality wooden rafters and varnished. The heritage floor tiles which got replaced over a period of time with modern tiles was an eye sore and hence were removed and restored with tiles of the original type. These tiles were specially made for the High Court by comparing these to the few original tiles remaining. The completely restored Rajamannar Hall was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on 08.03.2016.The hall having been restored to its original glory is attracting visitors and heritage enthusiasts. The manner in which the hall has been restored made senior counsel of yester years to remark that it is the same as it was decades back as a recollection of their memory of those time. In furtherance to the initiative taken by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to trace the history of the Supreme Court and High Courts and to upgrade the Supreme Court Museum and at the request of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Heritage Committee headed by the Hon’ble Judge was instrumental in designing replicas of the Madras High Court Artefacts. That apart, a write up of history of the Madras High Court manuscripts and landmark judgments were collected and sent to the Hon’ble Supreme Court Museum. The Heritage Committee also identified that in the State of Tamil Nadu there are 51 heritage Court buildings housing District Courts/Sub Courts/Magistrate/Munsiff courts. Under the Chairmanship of His Lordship, the Heritage Committee took steps to preserve the heritage Court buildings. The restoration work of the landmark old and new light house in the Madras High Court is also under progress. The two structures one on the High Court building and the other one adjacent to the main building are architectural marvels. Tenders have also been invited for restoration of the 22 exquisite domes and minarets by specialist. These structures are unique architectural marvels of the Madras High Court which have given the Court the unique status as an architectural marvel of buildings from ancient times to modern times. The huge terrace of the heritage complex has been redone as per the original parameters and that has strengthened the building in a big way. As per the direction of His Lordship, the entire heritage work carried out in the Madras High Court is being documented systematically. SPECIAL COMMITTEE FOR CAR PARKING & ENVIRONMENT In the year 2006, for the first time, in the High Court Campus, the Committee, of which His Lordship was a member, identified 15 places for Cars and two-wheeler as parking areas. This was needed because of the huge congestion caused by outsiders, namely, the shop-keepers of George Town and flower market occupying the vacant space in the High Court campus. After the regulation the advocates heaved a sigh of relief. As a Member of the Committee, His Lordship persuaded the Government of Puducherry and got allotment of funds to the tune of Rs.1.73 Crores for improving environmental conditions, such as parking, landscaping, ornamental lights, toilets, construction of staircase, ramp for disabled etc. The Hon’ble Judge was instrumental for the installation of seven lifts in the High Court Campus and construction of ramps and two special disabled friendly lifts. The High Court Campus was declared as “Litter-free Zone”, “No smoking zone” and “No Spitting Zone” – thanks to the train of thoughts of the Committee. The concept of “5S Method” is the brainchild of His Lordship and this is being implemented in the High Court from the year 2007. “5S” denotes – (i) Sort/Segregate; (ii) Set in order/Systematic Arrangement; (iii) Super-clean/shine; (iv) Standardise; and (v) Self Discipline/Sustain. This method decongests the High Court office of unwanted files papers and articles etcetera. BIOMETRIC ATTENDANCE In order to ensure that the Administrative Department and the staff attend the Court in time and to ensure that absenteeism does not affect judicial work, Biometric System was introduced and this curtailed unauthorized absenteeism and late attendance. RECORD ROOM: Multi-storeyed building for housing Record Sections (English/Vernacular) and Translation Department – Stilt + Nine Floors was conceptualized by His Lordship and the building was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice. The request made by the building Committee for providing Compactors in the nine floor New Records Building was partly sanctioned by the Government and as on date, funds for providing Compactors in two floors have been sanctioned and is being implemented. ARBITRATION CENTRE: At the request of the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Justice Shri S. K. Kaul, the Hon’ble Judge designed and executed a State of Art Modern Arbitration Centre with four Arbitration Halls with all required facilities. This was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. The unique design and layout of the Madras High Court Arbitration Centre is a landmark for the Madras High Court. The Hon’ble Chief Justice has said on many occasions that the Madras High Court Arbitration Centre is one of the best in India. SECURITY COMMITTEE: Madras High Court was going through a great stress due to advocates’ boycott, dharna, roadroko and all other forms of protest that stalled the judiciary several months in a year. The Chief Justice constituted a security Committee, Hon’ble Judge took up the task of revamping the security system as Chairman and the entire system fell in place. The Hon’ble Judge participated in 33 meetings as on 29.02.2016. Under His Lordship’s Chairmanship, the Security Committee held several meetings and resolved that security cover for the High Court (Principal Seat and the Madurai Bench) should be handed over to the CISF. Immediately after declaration of the Madras High Court as a High Security Zone pursuant to the order passed by the First Bench in suo-motu writ proceedings, His Lordship took steps to segregate the High Court campus from the other courts situate within the High Court campus. Despite the deluge of November, 2015, and the incessant train, His Lordship took all earnest efforts and ensured that the order of the First Bench directing deployment of CISF personnel with effect from 16.11.2015 is implemented in a record time of one week, with available resources and leased out equipments. This put an end to the endless lawyer protests in the corridors of the Madras High Court. The feedback of the majority stakeholders, practicing advocates staff, etc., was encouraging. In one voice, all concerned stated that the measure stopped the entry of unauthorized people and loitering of unknown persons was curbed. It brought orderliness to the functioning of the Courts. For the first time in the history of the Madras High Court, the Republic Day celebrations commenced a parade of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which was meticulously planned and organized under the supervision of the Security Committee. SEQUICENTENARY CELEBRATIONS OF MADRAS HIGH COURT: His Lordship was an active member of the Committee constituted for organizing the Valedictory Function of the Sesquicentenary of the Madras High Court. The then Chief Justice realising that the preparation for the historical function was not progressing well called upon Hon’ble Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar to take an active role in the Committee for the smooth functioning of the celebrations. The works entrusted to the said Committees were conceived and executed by His Lordships to the satisfaction of one and all. His Lordships proactive role ensured that the historical function was a grand success. The flawless arrangements were commended by one and all. The valedictory function was a resounding success with a galaxy of luminaries. TAMIL NADU NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL, TRICHY: The Hon’ble Chief Justice realising the bad shape in which the T.N.N.L.S was in and also taking note of the complaints by students placed the mantle on Hon’ble Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar to revamp the institution. His Lordship was nominated as a member of the Executive council of the Tamil Nadu Law School on 10.6.2015. During the short span of seven months, five meetings of the Executive Council were held. His Lordship developed the infrastructure needed for effective running of the Tamil Nadu National Law School, Trichy. Regular faculty members were appointed. The Vice-Chancellor resigned realising his inability and an IAS officer was appointed and the law school was brought on track. The “Tamil Nadu National Law School Duties and Responsibilities of Officers and Services Regulations 2015” was framed and implemented. Postscript The various administrative duties performed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar as a Judge of the Madras High Court. The knowledge and expertise gained while serving as a Judge of the High Court is being put to use for tuning up the implementation of various measures to improve the infrastructure, E-Courts project and other facilities to the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir which is in dire need of proper directions to implement various infrastructure and other judicial related measures that remained a non starter for so many years. Appointed as Acting Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu & Kashmir vide notification No.K.11019/07/2018-US.II dated 13th March,2018.
  • Took oath as Hon'ble the Chief Justice of High Court of Manipur on 18.05.2018

 

 
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