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Frame guidelines for selection of law officers: HC to TN govt

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Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to frame definite guidelines regarding the method of selection of advocates for the post of law officers.
A bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose said the guidelines should give weightage to the advocates' court appearances, legal acumen, academic background, integrity and general reputation among others.
It was disposing of a petition by V Vasanthakumar, an advocate of the high court, challenging the Law Officers of High Court of Madras and its Bench at Madurai (Appointment) Rules 2017.
The court noted that as per the rules, the state advocate general forwards names of candidates and a committee comprising three government secretaries and the AG select the law officers. However, the rules did not have any guidelines.
"In our view, there should be prescribed guidelines laying down the criteria and norms of selection," the bench said, adding applications should be invited from eligible lawyers by giving notices to the recognised bar associations.
Noting that appointment of judicial officers was in the exclusive arena of the government, the court made it clear any judicial review would be limited only to examining whether the process was vitiated by any illegality, irregularity, perversity or irrationality.
The court would not sit in appeal to re-assess or make a comparative assessment of the merits of candidates as long as the method of appointment did not suffer from any infirmity, the bench said in its April 28 order.
It also said the method adopted for appointment must demonstrate that search for the meritorious was undertaken and the process was not affected by any extraneous circumstances.
Quality of judgement or justice administered by the courts was directly proportionate to the quality of assistance the courts get from counsel appearing in a case, the bench said.
"Poor assistance by counsel who are not sufficiently equipped in scholarship, experience or commitment would adversely affect the administration of justice by the court," it added.

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First Published: Apr 30 2018 | 8:15 PM IST

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