The state judiciary has decided to raise its strength in the courts, especially in the high court, to check the series of defeats and harassment of senior officers, including secretaries of various departments, who were called by the judges for non-compliance of orders within stipulated time.
The department has also decided to reshuffle its panel of lawyers in the high court and give fresh appointments to public prosecutors in various criminal courts of the city. The process of appointing lawyers in the new panel has already started.
According to an official of the state judicial department, in the last financial year, the government had to suffer defeat in 40 per cent of the cases registered against it. In most occasions, the petitioners obtained orders from the judges, as the government lawyers did not attend court during the hearings.
“In many cases, the senior officers, including secretaries of various departments, were summoned by the courts for not complying with orders in time. Actually, some of the lawyers did not convey the orders of the court to the respective departments and the departmental heads were asked to show cause,” he alleged.
According to the official, the government had to face a huge financial loss, as it had to pay the penalties for not carrying out the orders of the courts. “The state government is facing trouble in service matters. Aggrieved government employees are getting orders in their favour, as the panel of lawyers are not doing their job properly,” they said.
Not only that, almost all the ministries of the government are annoyed with the performance of the state lawyers, admitted a staff of the legal remembrance department. “The health department is refusing to send cases to the judicial department and officials are engaging lawyers outside the panel to fight their cases,” he said.
Recently, a meeting was held at the chamber of advocate-general Balai Ray, in the presence of state judicial minister Nishith Adhikari. The additional government pleaders and public prosecutor of Calcutta High Court also attended the meeting.
The meeting decided that one lawyer would be deputed to each of the 33 courtrooms of the high court, so that no case against the government could be heard exparte. “According to the present rule, the panel of lawyers have to send court orders through a messenger. However, the system is being relaxed. From now, the lawyers will have the liberty to convey the messages over telephone,” said Kalimoy Moitra, secretary to the advocate-general.
On the other hand, the panel of lawyers has alleged that the government was not paying their bills for a long time. Government pleader R. L. Moitra admitted that there were at least 100 lawyers in the high court whose bills are outstanding, totalling more than Rs 1 lakh.
“A sum of Rs 80 lakh has been sanctioned by the finance department to start the reformation programme and partial payments are being made to the lawyers,” said a clerk of the department.