The Allahabad High Court has voiced serious reservation on the “non-availability of competent” standing counsel among the 201 government lawyers appointed recently by the Uttar Pradesh government to the Lucknow bench.
The Lucknow Bench of the court said the court is facing problems for the last more than a week since a new panel has been appointed by the state.
A division bench of Justice Sudhir Agrawal and Justice RN Mishra II said, “Standing counsel or brief holders, as the case may be, appearing in this court, we find are not well-versed with cases, so as to assist this court whenever they are taken up and many a times even the files of cases, which are called, are not available with them.
“We also find, at this stage, another constraint, this court is facing, for the last more than a week i.e. non-availability of competent standing counsel to argue matters. Since a new panel has been made by State and learned standing counsel or brief holders, as the case may be, appearing in this court, we find are not well versed with the cases, so as to assist this court whenever they are taken up and many a times, even the files of cases, which are called, are not available with them,” it said.
Additional Advocate General Ramesh Singh admitted that so far as the panel of standing counsel etc. is concerned, which has been recently published, even Additional Advocate General/Advocate General finds it difficult to sort out a minimum number of competent counsel to be assigned in each court.
At this, the bench inquired from the in-charge Legal Remembrancer (LR) MA Abbasi, who informed the court that the he was not aware of all these things since it was taken up by former Legal Remembrancer Rangnath Pandey, who has now become a High Court judge. He, however, said he will have to look into the matter.
The issue came up before the bench while hearing a petition filed by the Public Works Department challenging an order passed by the Service Tribunal. During the course of hearing on July 13, the court did not get proper assistance and hence it had summoned the LR on Monday.
The state government had issued a list of 201 government lawyers on July 7 and had removed about 350 lawyers already working since the time of the Samajwadi Party government. The government had included about 44 lawyers of the previous regime.
To its surprise, more than four dozen new government lawyers did not have Advocate–On–Role number, which is a prima facie proof of practice in high court. Apart from it, five names were repeated for different posts and five were missing from the list. As the issue gathered media attention, the law minister said he did not have any say in the list and came to know about it from media reports. The bench asked the LR to file reply on affidavit regarding the current issue on July 24.