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We need someone to assist us with Coalgate probe report: SC

india Updated: Oct 29, 2013 21:23 IST
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it needed assistance to analyse CBI's voluminous coalgate probe reports and suggested appointment of amicus curiae to lend a helping hand to it.

A formal order for the appointment of amicus curiae (to assist the court) was not passed as consent of the senior advocate TR Andhyarujina, whose name was suggested, could not be taken as he was not present in the courtroom.

The order might be passed regarding this on the next date of hearing on November 26.

The proposition of appointing amicus was stiffly opposed by CBI's counsel and senior advocate Amrendra Sharan raising question on how can a lawyer be allowed to go through the status report when he is not allowed to see the contents of the report.

"My apprehension is that nobody in the capacity of amicus curiae act as ombudsman," Sharan said.

The CBI, however, relented when the bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said that Sharan will also be allowed to go through the reports to defend the agency in the case.

"We are facing a problem. Nobody is there to assist us in going through the status report. We want to have assistance.

We need legal assistance of somebody to assist us in looking at status report," the bench said at the outset of hearing.

"We want assistance from you as well and one independent lawyer who will be amicus curiae," the bench said when Sharan opposed the appointement of amicus.

Sharan asked how a CBI counsel could be given a go bye and amicus curiae made privy to the status reports into the investigation of the matter which is going at good pace.

"You must keep pace but investigation hurried is investigation burried," the bench observed.

Various suggestions were made to provide assistance to the bench by different lawyers appearing in the case. While Sharan submitted that the CBI officers can assist the bench in chamber in going through the report, other lawyers suggested appointment of amicus curiae or getting assistance from retired senior investigators.

The bench, however, turned down the plea of CBI and agreed to appoint Andhyarujina as amicus curiae subject to his consent.

It was contended by PIL petitioner in the matter, advocate ML Sharma, that it is difficult to appoint a senior advocate as amicus because most of the lawyers have already been engaged by different parties in the case.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was present on the courtroom, had suggested that some senior advocate like Andhyarujina or those not appearing in the court on day-to-day basis should be asked to assist the court in the matter.

Former Attorney General Ashok Desai, who was also present in the courtroom, explained the role of the amicus curiae and said he has to be a fair person and should not be like an ombudsman.