Reckless aspersions cast on lawyers, assisting the courts, are lowering the dignity of the amicus curiae, a 'friend of the court', and harming the honour and prestige attached with the noble service, former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium told the Supreme Court today.
A visibly pained and anguished Subramanium, assisting the top court in high-stake matters like the BCCI reforms and the Padmanabhaswamy temple, rued an increasing trend of levelling reckless aspersions and insinuations on the amicus curiae appointed by the courts.
The senior lawyer, who also served as the solicitor general during the erstwhile UPA government, told a bench comprising justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that the trend was not a healthy one.
"The tradition says that to be appointed as an amicus curiae (a friend of court) is always an honour for an advocate. Now a days whenever an amicus curiae takes a strong position according to his conscience which does not suit either of the parties, aspersions are being cast on him. This has not been the tradition," Subramanium said.
He said there has always been an honour and prestige associated with the designation of the amicus curiae, but casting aspersion or making personal allegations is lowering the dignity.
"This has never been the practice of this court. Earlier, the court used to seek assistance of a lawyer by appointing him as amicus curiae. In criminal appeals especially in death sentence cases, the amicus used to go into the entire case records and assist the courts. Such was the prestige associate with it," he said.
Subramanium has often been criticised for his alleged rigid stand on the implementation of Justice R M Lodha panel's recommendations on structural reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the apex cricket body.
"They make personal allegations. They start casting aspersions. This has been lowering of the dignity and prestige associated with being an amicus," he said.
He said earlier the practice in the apex court used to be that if any lawyer present in the court room made a point, he was allowed to assist the court through the advocate making his submission in the case.
Subramanium's remarks came as he narrated to the court that having been a member of the Justice Verma committee, he, along with others, had worked tirelessly for 29 days to submit the report suggesting reforms in the rape law.
"We had to work for 29 days without any extension of time to submit the report to the government. We took no remuneration for the purpose. Former judge of the Delhi High Court Leila Seth, who was one of the members, scrutinised our English and added very valuable inputs to the report," he said.