Know your Ministry - No. 36 - Law & Justice Department of legal affairs

The Department of Legal Affairs is concerned with advising the various Ministries of the Central Government while the Legislative Department is concerned with drafting of principal legislation for the Central Government.

FUNCTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS

The Department of Legal Affairs has been allocated the following items as per the Government of India {Allocation of Business} Rules, 1961:-

  • Advice to Ministries on legal matters including interpretation of the Constitution and the laws, conveyancing and engagement of counsel to appear on behalf of the Union of India in the High Courts and subordinate courts where the Union of India is a party.
  • Attorney General of India, Solicitor General of India, and other Central Government law officers of the States whose services are shared by the Ministries of the Government of India.
  • Conduct of cases in the Supreme Court and the High Court’s on behalf of the Central Government and on behalf of the Governments of States participating in the Central Agency Scheme.
  • Reciprocal arrangements with foreign countries for the service of summons in civil suits for the execution of decrees of Civil Courts, for the enforcement of maintenance orders, and for the administration of the estates of foreigners dying in India.
  • Authorization of officers to execute contracts and assurances of property on behalf of the President under Article 299(1) of the Constitution, and authorization of officers to sign and verify plaints or written statements in suits by or against the Central Government.
  • Department is administratively in-charge of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and the Law Commission of India and with all the matters relating to the Indian Legal Service.
  • It is allocated administration of the following Acts:- (i) The Advocates Act, 1961,(ii) The Notaries Act, 1952, iii)The Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act, 2001, (iv)The Notaries Act, 1952,(v)The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987,(vi) The Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act, 2001 and (vii) The National Tax Tribunal Act, 2005.
  • Legal Profession: The Department has been allocated the following items as per the Government of India {Allocation of Business} Rules, 1961:-
  • Conduct of cases in the Supreme Court and the High Courts on behalf of the
    Central Government and on behalf of the Governments of States participating in
    the Central Agency Scheme.
  • Reciprocal arrangements with foreign countries for the service of summons in civil suits
    for the execution of decrees of Civil Courts, for the enforcement of
    maintenance orders, and for the administration of the estates of foreigners
    dying in India.
  • Enlargement of the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and the conferring thereon of further
    powers; persons entitled to practice before the Supreme Court, references to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution of India.
  • Indian Legal Service.
  • Treaties and agreements with foreign countries in matters of civil law.

ORGANISATIONS UNDER DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS

  • Law Commission of India.
  • Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. 
  • Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange

ACTIVITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS

The nature of duties discharged can be broadly classified into two areas- Advice work and Litigation work.

  • Advice Work
  • Arbitration - Permanent Machinery Of Arbitration (PMA) & Law Secretary and Appellate Authority
  • Grants-in-aid:- With a view to promoting studies and research in matters of Law, the Department of Legal Affairs sanctions grants in-aid to the certain institutions engaged in research in the field of law.
  • Entrustment of work relating to “Legal Aid to the Poor”.
  • Litigation work (details updated only upto March 2015)

INITIATIVES

  • National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy. National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy(NDSAP)
  • E-OFFICE
  • Legal Information Management & Briefing System(LIMBS)
  • Integrated Legal Division
  • International Treaty Division
  • National Litigation Policy
  • Training Plan for ILS Officers
  • Tribunals – Mergers

JUDICIAL SECTION : Functions, List of Officers of Judicial Section,  Law Officers (i.e. AGI, SGI & Addl. SGIs), Asst. SGIs in various High Courts / Benches of High Courts, Nodal Officers in various Ministries/Departments/other bodies under Govt. of India , Empanelled Advocates , Circulars pertaining to litigation, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties and Hague Conference On Private International Law

NOTARY CELL: It is engaged in the Selection, Appointment and Display list of Notaries across all States.

LAW COMMISSION REPORTS

Over the last several years various Law Commissions were set up to study and evaluate many issues spread across to various Ministries and Department. However, the status of implementation or acceptance and reasons of pendency or rejection, etc is not made available in public domain. Since Law Commission has been allocated to the Department of Legal Affairs under principal role functions as per the Government of India {Allocation of Business} Rules, 1961, there is a need to publish a detailed report on the status of every Law Commission Report (from Report No.1 to Report No.277) periodically for information to every citizen. It is imperative to mention that the following matters related to the Department of Legal Affairs needs to be first published in its official website and updated periodically:-

  1. Need for Uniformity in the Retirement Age of Chairpersons and Members of Tribunal;
  2. Justice–dispensation through ADR etc.;
  3. Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts and Commercial Courts Bill, 2015;
  4. Legal Education& Professional Training and proposal for amendments to the Advocates Act, 1961;
  5. Regulation of Legal Profession;

WAY FORWARD

  1. Expedite formation of Virtual Courts optimizing technology resources by categorizing the case types in a larger perspective introducing uniformity across every court in the country.
  2. Enforce utmost transparency in the Advocate empanelment process and procedures.
  3. Expand the scope for employment and engagement of young and experienced law graduates to reduce the pendency of cases across many courts in the country by engaging them to co-ordinate between Courts and Clients /Advocates without many intervention.
  4. Integrate the multiple or duplicate case types and introduce a common prefix under a uniform Court Rules and Practices applicable to all Courts irrespective of jurisdiction.
  5. Introduce suitable Legal Reforms to simplify the litigation process and procedures for Courts.

 

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