Supreme Court’s Directive: Preserve Legal Continuity to Prevent Court Delays Post-Government Transitions

In a recent development, the Supreme Court has addressed a persistent issue concerning the turnover of legal representatives in States and Union Territories following changes in political leadership. The court, noticing a pattern where such transitions lead to adjournments, emphasized the need for continuity in legal representation to maintain the smooth functioning of the judicial system.

During a recent hearing on April 1st, the court raised concerns over the frequent changes in the panel of advocates representing States and Union Territories, particularly noting its adverse impact on court proceedings. While acknowledging the authority of States and Union Territories to appoint their legal representatives, the court underscored the importance of ensuring minimal disruption to court proceedings.

In response to this concern, the Supreme Court proposed a pragmatic solution: urging States and Union Territories to retain the previous panel of advocates for a transitional period of at least six weeks when making changes. This directive aims to mitigate the need for frequent adjournments due to the unfamiliarity of new legal representatives with ongoing cases.

The bench, comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan, made these observations during the hearing of a bail application related to a case under the Uttar Pradesh Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1988. The court cited instances where adjournments were sought due to the unavailability of the previous panel of advocates, stressing the detrimental impact on the administration of justice.

Furthermore, the court directed the Registry to circulate copies of this order to all Standing Counsels representing States and Union Territories, ensuring widespread awareness and compliance with the directive.

During subsequent proceedings, the court also summoned the Secretary of the Ministry of Law, State of Uttarakhand, to address the issue. The Secretary, in response, highlighted the longstanding tenure of the previous panel of advocates, indicating the need for a smooth transition process.

Taking into account the circumstances presented, the Supreme Court reiterated its directive for maintaining legal continuity during transitions and granted bail to the accused based on considerations of parity and prolonged detention.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s directive emphasizes the importance of preserving legal continuity to prevent unnecessary delays in court proceedings, ensuring efficient and effective administration of justice across States and Union Territories.

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