No end to lack of coordination between Law Officers in deptts, Govt advocates

Further laxity will lead to stern action: Law Secy
*Nodal Officers appointed to monitor pending cases

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, June 13: Despite repeated directives from the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, there is no end to the lack of coordination between the Law Officers and other legal staff posted in the departments and the Government advocates conducting cases in the courts.
Now, in order to put full stop on this practice, which is leading to passing of adverse orders against the Government of the Union Territory, the Law Secretary has made it clear that any further laxity on the part of the Law Officers will be viewed seriously and accordingly stern action will be taken against them.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that from time to time the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs issued orders laying thrust on proper coordination between the Law Officers posted in the departments and the Government advocates so as to ensure that cases are decided in the courts on the basis of merit and not due to non-prosecution or for want of relevant records.
However, these orders were not taken seriously by majority of the Law Officers and other legal staff posted in the Government departments as a result of which not only top bureaucrats but the Government advocates were too facing embarrassment in the courts.
Recently, this aspect was seriously debated by the Secretary to Government, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Department and the Advocate General and accordingly it was decided to give last opportunity to the ‘non-performing’ Law Officers posted in the Government departments.
Accordingly, the Secretary to the Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Anchal Sethi has issued a circular mentioning that in many cases the Special/Additional Secretaries (Legal), Senior Law Officers, Public Law Officers, Legal Assistants and Junior Legal Assistants posted in various departments/offices don’t keep proper liaison and coordination with the Government advocates conducting cases on behalf of these departments.
“At times they even fail to provide Government advocates necessary records rendering it difficult for the counsels to defend the cases on behalf of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir”, the Law Secretary said.
Accordingly, he has impressed upon all the Special/Additional Secretaries (Legal), Senior Law Officers, Public Law Officers, Legal Assistants and Junior Legal Assistants to ensure proper coordination with the Government advocates who are conducting cases of the respective departments through Nodal Officers and provide them all required assistance.
He has also advised them to desist from any such activity or course of action, which is contrary to or inconsistent with the opinion, if any, given in such matters by the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
“Any laxity in this behalf shall be viewed seriously and if any case is decided against the Union Territory for non-prosecution or for want of relevant records, the Special/Additional Secretaries (Legal), Senior Law Officers, Public Law Officers, Legal Assistants and Junior Legal Assistants concerned shall be held personally responsible for the same”, the Law Secretary has made it clear in the circular.
The Law Department has also nominated Director Litigation Jammu and Director Litigation Kashmir as Nodal Officers for monitoring the court cases of all the departments pending before the High Court, Tribunals and Benches at Jammu and Srinagar in addition to their own duties.
The Nodal Officers will be responsible for keeping liaison with all the Law Officers posted in different departments/offices for effective monitoring of court cases. Moreover, they will ensure that the replies in all the petitions are filed in time bound manner so that no adverse order is passed.
Moreover, the Nodal Officers have been directed to keep close liaising with the office of the Advocate General and directly report to him. “The Nodal Officers shall submit report after every 15 days to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs”, the Government order said.
Even all the Law Officers posted in different departments have been explicitly told to provide all possible assistance to the Nodal Officers in this regard.
“Expeditious disposal of the pending litigations is the priority of the Government of the Union Territory and is the only objective behind the recent directions issued to the Law Officers”, sources said, adding “even Government advocates have been told to file replies/statement of facts and Letter Patent Appeals with promptitude so as to avoid frequent personal appearance of Administrative Secretaries”.