SC decides to frame guidelines for selecting govt lawyers

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Taking note of the environment ministry’s recent notification appointing 22 lawyers ‘without any merit or norm’ to defend the government in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and its other branches, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to frame guidelines for empanelment of the counsel by the Centre and State governments.

A bench headed by Justice TS Thakur asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, the second senior-most law officer of the Central government, to suggest a committee for selection of the lawyers for government panels.

“There should be some methodology for through which the process of selection should be made objective. Should respective high court or the bar associations be consulted by the state governments while selecting the names?” the bench asked Kumar.

On September 1, the environment ministry had issued a notification naming 22 lawyers for NGT and later asked them for their resume and details of experience.

The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by a lawyer Pradeep Rapria alleging that Punjab and Haryana governments have appointed large number of lawyers on the basis of their political connections and meritorious lawyers were not considered.

The court asked both the state governments to file the CAG reports in connection with this issue.

In an affidavit, the Haryana government has told the court it has 183 law officers, who were engaged without complying with any norm and Advocate General as the only validated post of the law officer and all other appointments of additional advocate general, deputy advocate general and assistant advocate general cannot be held to be public employment.

Earlier, the court slammed the Punjab government over appointment of law officers saying such appointments cannot be the act of “political appeasement” and must be transparent. Punjab has 174 law officers who were appointed without following any norms.

Petitioner alleged a majority of the Law Officers (in the AG Office) are kith and kin of ministers, political leaders, senior bureaucrats, police officers and MLAs of ruling party in the state.Source : DNA

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