By LE Desk
New Delhi, March 17: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Wednesday made a strong appeal to the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to rein in lawyers appointed as the court’s amici curiae in various cases, especially sensitive ones.
Appearing before a Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana, Mehta voiced indignation at the manner in which court-appointed amici curiae tended to even interfere in the “running” of organisations such as the CBI.
“Please demarcate the role of an amicus. They cannot run organisations such as the CBI… They are not here to say which officer should be in which organisation, but we have been seeing this for decades. An amicus is appointed to present diverse views and assist the court… It is time the court frame guidelines to demarcate the role and ambit of an amicus curiae … I will move an application,” Mehta submitted, as reported by The Hindu.
The Bench said an amicus curiae has no further interest except to help the court.
Lawyers are appointed by the court as amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court’ in specific cases to assist the court. Many cases would have multiple parties, States or departments with diverse views. An amicus curiae is appointed to help the court compile facts, research the law in question and even offer a non-partisan opinion.
An oral statement from a top government law officer in the highest court to tether amici curiae hand-picked by the latter is significant.
Mehta’s remarks came during the hearing of a case of alleged extra-judicial killings by the Army, Assam Rifles and the State police in Manipur during the heights of insurgency.
The court is monitoring the CBI probe. Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy is the amicus curiae in the case. The Solicitor General clarified that his remarks were not meant as a personal affront to Guruswamy’s work in the case.
The court had in 2017 ordered a CBI probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur from 2000 to 2012.
In its order on Wednesday, the Bench allowed an officer deputed to the National Human Rights Commission and linked to the case to be repatriated to his parent department.