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SC frames rules to appoint law officers in Punjab, Haryana

SC frames rules to appoint law officers in Punjab, Haryana
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday framed guidelines for the appointment of law officers in Punjab and Haryana, saying there was neither a criteria nor a policy for the selection of such officials.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit, said a selection committee, headed by Law Commission Secretary, will look into the appointments of law officers in both the states.

The Bench added that the committee will give the names and profiles of law officers to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court and full transparency should be maintained. The Apex Court said the Chief Justice of the High Court will recommend the names of law officers, along with suggestions, to both the states, after which they can make the appointments.

The court said there was lack of transparency in the entire process of appointment of law officers due to which it had to issue guidelines, which could also be followed by other states.

The issue before the Apex Court pertained to a dispute on the appointment and dismissal of a law officer by the Punjab government. A petition was filed by advocate Pradeep Raparia against the Haryana government on a similar issue.

The court had last year taken note of Punjab’s 174 law officers’ team and had asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who was assisting it as amicus curiae, to find out if any state had laid down procedure for the selection of law officers.

The Bench had asked the state to explain the procedure for the selection of law officers, whether there was a search committee to shortlist advocates for law officers’ posts, and whether the state consulted the High Vourt before finalising the appointments. Admitting that there was no such procedure for the selection of law officers, the Punjab government had said there was no definite procedure nor statutory rule governing engagement of advocates as law officers for Punjab. 
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