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Law officers on Plan panel radar

delhi Updated: Dec 06, 2010 23:24 IST
Nagendar Sharma

At a time when the top law officers of the government are at the receiving end in the Supreme Court in the ongoing 2G spectrum case, the Planning Commission has asked the law ministry to make them accountable for their work.

In a critical evaluation of the highly publicised national litigation policy prepared by the law ministry, the commission has recommended regular monitoring of the work of law officers and lawyers appointed on the government panels.

The law ministry has come under fire for its handling of legal issues related to the 2G spectrum scam and the ongoing hearing of the case in the top court, which even observed against the Prime Minister for the alleged inaction of his office in dealing with a complaint seeking sanction to prosecute former telecom minister A Raja.

Apart from shuffling its top law officers, the ministry was forced to engage noted lawyer K K Venugopal to represent the CBI following strong observations of the Supreme Court on the tardy probe into the 2G scam by the country’s top investigating agency.

“All court cases are defended by various government departments after getting them vetted for the law ministry. Law officers should be made equally accountable for any deviation from laid down rules leading to lapses in courts,” the commission has said in its note, virtually rejecting the litigation policy.

“Performance of law officers and lawyers on government panels should be regularly monitored and appropriate action be taken in deserving cases. An exclusive vigilance cell must be set-up in the ministry to receive complaints against them and carry out investigations,” the Planning Commission has said.

It has also sought a change in the payment structure for government lawyers.

“It is advisable to give them lumpsum fee for each case or each category of a case. Fee structure should carry elements like dearness allowance, to attract better lawyers,” the commission said.

It has asked the ministry to introduce an appraisal system for lawyers representing it.

“The format should include number of cases handled, their outcome, adjournments sought and complaints received against the lawyer, if any. Completed appraisal form should be available on the ministry website,” the Planning Commission noted.