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  • The Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh expressed its concerns on the contractual appointment of panel lawyers without the prerequisite of 7 years of experience being fulfilled to represent the State Government in Criminal matters like criminal appeal, suspension of sentences, bail applications, etc.
  • The PIL regarding this matter was filed by Mr. Gyan Prakash, a social worker, who alleged that the Advocate General Office has authorized a large number of junior counsels to represent the State in criminal matters without possessing the minimum statutory eligibility as prescribed under Section 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • The Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla took exception to lawyers without required experience representing the State and Centre before the Courts in criminal matters contrary to the eligibility criteria given in Section 24 of the CrPC.
  • The Court questioned the Centre and the State whether a panel lawyer may appear before the High Court in criminal matters like appeals, bail applications, criminal revisions, suspension of sentences, MCRCs, etc. without having the experience of 7 years and without consultation of High Court as required u/s 24 (1) of the CrPC?
  • Amicus Curiae Advocate Aditya Sanghi informed the Court that the public prosecutors may be appointed for a minimum period of 3 years and it should not be dependent merely on the discretion of the political dispensation.

Court’s Observations

  • The Court directed the Respondent-State to clarify whether one public prosecutor is appointed for each court in all districts of the State or whether multiple courts are assigned to one public prosecutor in criminal matters.
  • The State was also directed to clarify as to how many posts in the cadre of Addl. District Prosecution Officers, District Prosecution Officers, and Deputy Director are vacant in the State.
  • Further, the Court questioned whether promotions may not be granted against the unfilled posts of the quota of promotion in the cadre of the District Prosecution Officers and Deputy Director to the extent not affected by order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, concerning which there is no dispute.
  • The Court also asked whether the State can refrain from appointing Addl. District Prosecution Officers/District Prosecution Officers on basis of Retainership for fixed duration against unfilled posts of Public Prosecutors.
  • The Court also directed the Central Government to file a report concerning the compliance of Section 24(1) and Section 24(4) of CrPC; concerning whether the Advocates appearing for agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate etc. before High Court and courts subordinate, are appointed in consultation with the High Court or Sessions Judge in terms of Section 24(1) and 24(4) of Cr.P.C. respectively.

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