Amicus: Only Lawyers With Minimum 10Yrs Practice Shall Be Considered For Representing Accused In Trial Of Offences Punishable With Death Or Life Term

The Supreme Court has issued guidelines in the matter of appointment of amicus curiae to defend the accused in serious criminal cases.The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Krishna Murari issued these guidelines while setting aside a death penalty awarded to a rape and murder accused in a trial that finished within thirteen days. The Court found that, in this case, the Amicus Curiae did not get the sufficient time to go through even the basic documents, nor the advantage of any discussion or interaction with the accused, and time to reflect over the matter.

It also observed that expeditious disposal of criminal cases must never result in burying the cause of justice. While parting with the judgment, the bench observed:
i) In all cases where there is a possibility of life sentence or death sentence, learned Advocates who have put in minimum of 10 years practice at the Bar alone be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae or through legal services to represent an accused.
ii) In all matters dealt with by the High Court concerning confirmation of death sentence, Senior Advocates of the Court must first be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae.
iii) Whenever any learned counsel is appointed as Amicus Curiae, some reasonable time may be provided to enable the counsel to prepare the matter. There cannot be any hard and fast rule in that behalf. However, a minimum of seven days' time may normally be considered to be appropriate and adequate.
iv) Any learned counsel, who is appointed as Amicus Curiae on behalf of the accused must normally be granted to have meetings and discussion with the concerned accused.

(Amicus Curiae is a person or entity wo has been allowed by the court to plead or make submission but who is not directly involved in the actions)*