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New lawyers to cut state’s legal losses

Calcutta, Dec. 28: Having implemented the court-fee hike to rake in additional revenue, the government has decided to overhaul its legal resources to cut the losses caused by delays in fighting contempt cases filed against it.

Stung by criticism from friends and foes during the debate on the fee-hike Bill, law minister Nisith Adhikari has decided to reshuffle the government’s panel of lawyers in different courts, including Calcutta High Court.

A law department spokesman said the ministry is thinking of making fresh appointments to the posts of public prosecutors in different criminal courts of the state. The process of appointing lawyers in the new panel has already begun, he added.

While asking the government to ensure that common litigants get early relief, almost all the parties of the Left Front, the Opposition and Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim had criticised the government’s loss of money for not obeying court orders within the stipulated time.

“The government panel lawyers are not handling the cases with due attention and do not convey the court’s orders within the stipulated period to the departments concerned. As a result, the government has to spend in excess of what it would have taken to dispose of a particular case,” they had alleged.

They placed a number of suggestions before the government on how to handle the slew of contempt cases filed against the government’s departments as well as the harassment faced by bureaucrats summoned to court.

In the last financial year, the government had lost 40 per cent of the cases registered against it. “In most occasions, the petitioners obtained the order of the judges as the government lawyers did not attend court during the hearings,” the spokesman said.

Almost all the departments are unhappy with the performance of the state panel lawyers. “The health department is refusing to send cases to the law department and officials of the department have been asked to engage lawyers on their own,” said a member of the Democratic Lawyers’ Association (DLA), a CPM-dominated organisation.

The DLA members, who had attended court during the ceasework on orders from their leaders, are now demanding that the authorities leave out the lawyers who had defied the dictum from the new panel.

But a DLA member said it would be difficult to draw up the panel by appointing only lawyers owing allegiance to the Left Front.

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