Sunday, September 5, 2010

Delhi Govt asked to revise fee structure of amicus curiae

Delhi Govt asked to revise fee structure of amicus curiae

2010-09-05 10:20:00
Last Updated: 2010-09-05 10:28:26

New Delhi: A local court has asked the Delhi Government to revise the fee structure of the amicus curiae, who is appointed to assist the court or to render service to those who cannot afford advocates in judicial proceedings.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau expressed surprise over the scenario after being told that fee structure of amicus curiae has not been revised since 2002.

Amici curiae are appointed in courts at state expenses, generally to represent the accused who are unable to hire advocate to put forth their defence or to assist in the judicial proceedings.

The court said it was necessary to suitably reward the counsel who are appointed as amicus curiae.

"Representation through a counsel is not a mere formality that the accused be represented and it is necessary to ensure that in order to do justice proper opportunity is given to the accused to defend himself specifically in cases where the accused are unable to obtain legal assistance for the reasons of economic hardships or otherwise," the court said.

It also noted that the principle of natural justice also required that accused is properly represented in the court.

"Principles of natural justice require that no person be condemned unheard and hence the requirement to hearing the accused through his counsel. It is the duty of the State to provide such assistance and in order to ensure the quality of defence, assistance is being given to the accused persons," it said.

The court suggested the Delhi government to consider revising the pay structure of amicus curiae.

"This court is of the view that it is necessary that there should also be a suitable revision in the fee of Amicus Curiae as fixed by the Government of NCT of Delhi which has not been revised since the year 2002, and appears to have skipped their attention," the court said.

ASJ Lau also noted that the fee of the legal aid counsels has been recently enhanced by the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) while that of amicus curiae has been left untouched by the government.

The court made the observation after an amicus curiae representing an accused in a criminal case sought its direction to quantify his fees as the same has not been revised for quite some time.

The court fixed Rs 8,000 for the lawyer while directing that its order should be forwarded to the Chief Secretary and others for necessary action.

"I also deem it expedient that this fact be highlighted before the concerned authorities for necessary action at their end. I therefore direct that a copy of this order be placed before the Chief Secretary, NCT of Delhi and Principal Secretary (Law), Government of NCT of Delhi, for information and necessary action at their end," ASJ Lau said.

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