Madras HC Asks Puducherry Govt To Expedite Rules For Selection Of Law Officers [Read Order]

Madras HC Asks Puducherry Govt To Expedite Rules For Selection Of Law Officers [Read Order]

The Madras High Court has asked the Government of Union Territory of Puducherry to expedite the process of finalising the rules/guidelines for appointment of law officers while noting that it could not find any infraction to the procedure for selection of eligible advocates for the post of Government Pleaders, Additional Government Pleaders and Government Advocates.

Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad disposed of the petition moved by advocate V Vasanthakumar, who had sought direction to the UT government to frame appropriate rules for appointment of Law Officers, in a transparent and objective manner, representing the Union Territory of Puducherry, before the constitutional courts, subordinate judiciary, tribunals, quasi-judicial forums, local authorities, public bodies and other authorities.

The petitioner had sought for compliance of the Supreme Court’s decision in case titled State of Punjab & Another vs Brijeshwar Singh Chahal & Another, wherein the court had ordered that the states shall constitute a selection committee to select suitable candidates for appointment as state counsel. The Secretary, Department of Law, in each state shall be the member-secretary of the selection committee.

The apex court held: “The Committee shall on the basis of norms and criteria which the Government concerned may formulate and in the absence of any such norms, on the basis of norms and criteria which the Committee may themselves formulate conduct selection of law officers for the State and submit a panel of names to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana who may set up a Committee of Judges to review the panel and make recommendations to the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice may, based on any such recommendations, record his views regarding suitability of the candidates included in the panel. The Government shall then be free to appoint the candidates having regard to the views expressed by the Chief Justice regarding their merit and suitability.”

In the instant case before the Madras High Court, the Secretary to Government, Law Department, Puducherry, submitted before the court in response to the petition that the Union Territory of Puducherry is an enclave consisting of four regions, namely, Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Appointment of Law Officers in the Union Territory of Puducherry is governed by Government Orders dated 18.02.1969, (ii) 22.05.1981 and 20.10.1976, and that the terms and conditions of their appointment, are stipulated, in the said government orders.

The Government of Puducherry further submitted that for the past four decades, appointment of Public Prosecutors/Additional Public Prosecutors/Special Public Prosecutors (including special enactments) to the Union Territory of Puducherry is by calling panel of names from the Chief Judge, Puducherry, and also in accordance with the provisions of the Government Orders.

The court noted that the Lieutenant- Governor, Puducherry, has prepared the draft rules governing the appointment, conditions of service, and remuneration payable to the Law Officers of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

It further noted from the government’s affidavit that “till the formulation of Rules, for appointment to the post of Law Officers in Union Territory of Puducherry, as per the existing procedure, there was a Selection Committee, consisting of (i) Secretary (Personnel) as Member, (ii) Additional Secretary (Home) as Member and (iii) Secretary (Law) as Member Secretary. Now, the said Committee, has been reconstituted by consisting of Development Commissioner-cum-Secretary (Personnel), Puducherry as Chairman, (ii) Commissioner-cum-Secretary to Government as Member and (iii) Secretary (Law) as Member”.

The Government Pleader also informed the court that this committee had finalised the list of eligible candidates for appointment to the post of Government Pleader, Additional Government Pleaders, Additional Public Prosecutors, and that the same was been sent to the Chief Justice, High Court of Madras, on 17.06.2017, for approval.

“Having regard to decision of Union Territory of Puducherry, in reconsidering the draft Rules, based on the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab & another Vs Brijeshwar Singh Chahal & another, we only direct the respondents, to expedite the process, and frame the procedure/guidelines, as envisaged in the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court,” said the Madras High Court.

“In Brijeshwar Singh Chahal case, where there were no prescribed Rules, the Hon'ble Supreme Court, has directed that the panel might be forwarded to the Hon'ble Chief Justice, High Court, Madras, for approval. However, such exercise was to operate till Rules are framed. In this case, draft Rules are being reconsidered; selection has been made; and approval is sought for from the Hon'ble Chief Justice, High Court, Madras.

“As recommendations of the Selection Committee, as directed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab & another v.Brijeshwar Singh Chahal & another case, have been forwarded to the Hon'ble Chief Justice, High Court, Madras, for approval, Union Territory of Puducherry, is empowered to make appointments, as per the existing procedure, till formulation of the rules, in accordance with law,” it ordered.

Read the Order Here