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Ministry rap for top lawyers

The Centre is unhappy with the style of working of top law officers in the Supreme Court and has asked them not to function independently and without permission from the law ministry.

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2010 00:57 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The Centre is unhappy with the style of working of top law officers in the Supreme Court and has asked them not to function independently and without permission from the law ministry.

In a strongly worded letter to all lawyers appointed to represent the government, including the attorney-general, solicitor-general and all the additional solicitor-generals, the ministry has also asked them not to interact with the media without its permission.

“Of late, it has been noticed that law officers are tendering advice to various ministries /government departments directly without receiving a reference from the ministry and thereby creating embarrassing situations,” stated the letter signed by the law secretary.

“In matters for advice, where the reference is sent directly by any ministry/department, the law officer may not tender advice and ask the concerned department to make reference through the law ministry.”

Ministry officials have pointed out that some cases of law officers having given contradictory opinions have been brought to their notice by public sector units (PSUs).

The ministry has sternly asked its law officers to desist from making statements before the court without receiving its instructions. “Law officers have made statements having wide financial implications and ramifications on behalf of the

govt, without the ministry’s instructions,” said the letter addressed to solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily is understood to be upset with assurances given by a law officer on behalf of the Centre in the Supreme Court that adequate funds would be provided for creation of infrastructure for the judiciary in the country.

“A law officer promised to convince the government before the apex court about the provision of Rs 10,000 crore for setting-up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to clear pendency. How will we provide it?” said a senior ministry official.

In an apparent reference to similar promises made by law officers in the court, the letter states: “Some of the statements made by law officers before the courts were not only factually incorrect, but also are incapable to be implemented in view of wide financial implications.”

Law secretary D.R. Meena has advised the officers to be “more careful in dealing with the media about cases being handled by them”.