Madras HC to lay guidelines on role of amicus curiae

The Madras High Court on Wednesday said that it will lay down a broad framework on November 1 for the functioning of an amicus curiae appointed by it in a suo motu public interest litigation petition related to beach sand mining since the garnet firms had raised serious objections over the way the amicus V. Suresh (of People’s Union for Civil Liberties) was functioning.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar took the decision after a group of Senior Counsel accused the amicus curiae of soliciting information against the garnet firms from various agencies, and Mr. Suresh, on the other hand, taking strong exception to the accusations levelled against him of not being a friend of the court and acting as a litigant in an adversarial litigation.

Stating that he had taken painstaking efforts to collect information from different government agencies and place them before the court in all earnestness, Mr. Suresh said that it was painful to hear such accusations being levelled against him by those who enjoy money and muscle power. “I have placed all the materials in the court. Let them counter me on facts and not like this,” he said.

 ‘Criticism inappropriate’

Intervening during his submissions, Senior Counsel Mohan Parasaran said Mr. Suresh need not turn emotional. Senior Counsel Raju Ramachandran said that it was purely an academic debate on the role that an amicus curiae could play in a PIL petition taken by the court suo motu and nothing personal against the individual lawyer appointed as amicus in the case.

The Chief Justice, however, pointed out that an order passed by the court in January last appointing Mr. Suresh as an amicus does not lay down any guidelines for his functioning and that the garnet firms too had not filed any petition to frame such guidelines.

Therefore, it would not be appropriate to question the way of functioning of the amicus, she said.

During the course of arguments, Senior Counsel N.L. Rajah said that there could not be two opinions over the tremendous efforts put in by the amicus to assist the court in the case. “Our concern is only regarding procedure,” he said and stated that there must be clarity over what he could do and what he could not do.

As carried in TH

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