Competent lawyers should be appointed to represent govt: SC

The State should appoint only competent lawyers possessing integrity to represent it or else there is a strong possibility of “miscarriage of justice”, the Supreme Court has said.

The apex court though acknowledged the right of states to choose counsel of its choice like any other litigants.

A bench of justices Vikramjit Sen and A M Sapre, while hearing a case on appointment of government lawyers in district courts in Uttar Pradesh, said, “In choosing them (lawyers), the State will not only have to be satisfied of their forensic competence, but also that they are bereft of any criminal antecedents.”

“We think that the correct approach is to ensure the competency of advocates being considered for appointment of additional district government counsel, assistant district government counsel, panel lawyers and sub district government counsel. It seems to us that it would be an incorrect approach to start this process by considering the re-appointment or renewal of existing government counsels since that would dilute, nay, dissolve the discretion of the government to appoint advocates whom they find trustworthy,” the court said.

“The only expectation is that the choice made by the State should not be such as could defeat the sacred and onerous responsibility of ensuring that the justice is meted out to all citizens,” it said.

The apex court was hearing appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court verdict quashing the orders of the state government terminating the appointment of district government counsel. The high court had directed the state government to reconsider their renewal.

The high court, in the impugned order, had quashed the orders of the state government terminating the appointment of district government counsel and had further directed the state to reconsider their renewal.

The apex court agreed with the earlier judgment in which it had said that district counsel did not have a statutory right for renewal of tenure and the state government enjoyed discretionary power in this regard.

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