NEW DELHI:The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on the lack of criteria for appointing law officers at the state-level, virtually questioning if most of them assumed the post merely because of their affiliation to the ruling party.
It also took note of the recent environment ministry decision to appoint 30 advocates without taking merit into consideration. During the day-long hearing, it questioned why the environment and forest ministry had appointed the advocates as panel lawyers in breach of a year-old memo issued by the Prime Minister’s Office to all the departments to make only merit-based appointments. On September 5, 2014, the PMO had sent a communication to all the ministries and departments to focus on merit while proposing candidates for a particular assignment.
Advocate Pradeep Raparia, who alleged that political connections were the sole ground for appointment of law officers in Haryana, handed over a list of 30 panel lawyers, notified by the MoEF on September 1 to represent the ministry before the National Green Tribunal’s benches in Delhi, Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata and Chennai.
The notification said the empanelment was being done with the approval of the competent authority for conducting cases before the various benches of NGT on behalf of the ministry.
A bench, headed by Justice Thakur, asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar how could appointments be made first and resumes asked later. It expressed serious concern over the lack of proper procedures for appointment of government law officers. “Government law officers should be men of merit and not men with connections. This process requires transparency,” Justice Thakur said.