Guidelines laid down for appointment of Amicus Curiae

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Guidelines laid down for appointment of Amicus Curiae

Anokhilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh

2019 SCC OnLine SC 1637

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOs.62-63 OF 2014 decided 18.12.2019


UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and Krishna Murari, JJ


This was appeal by special leave petition challenging judgment passed by the High Court. In this case, the accused was not represented by an Advocate at the trial court so the District Legal Service Authority appointed an Amicus Curiae. The Amicus Curiae was appointed on the day charges were framed by the Trial Court and in next 7 days all the prosecution witness were examined and the trial itself was concluded within a fortnight thereafter.

Question of law

Whether there was any infraction or error on the part of the Trial Court in adopting the approach the way the trial was conducted in lower court i.e. the conduct of Amicus Curiae?

Argument Advanced

Mr. Siddharth Luthra argued that the way the trial was conducted, there was no fairness at all and the interest of the appellant-accused was put to prejudice on more than one count. In the submission of the learned Senior Counsel is was highlighted that the learned Amicus Curiae came to be appointed the same day when the charges were framed, which effectively means that the learned Amicus Curiae did not have sufficient opportunity to study the matter nor did he have any opportunity to have any interaction with the accused to seek appropriate instructions

Expeditious disposal is undoubtedly required in criminal matters and that would naturally be part of guarantee of fair trial. However, the attempts to expedite the process should not be at the expense of the basic elements of fairness and the opportunity to the accused, on which postulates, the entire criminal administration of justice is founded.


The Supreme Court remanded the matter for de novo trial as there was abuse of principle of natural justice owing to the fact that the accused was not adequately defended by the advocate appointed.

Guidelines by the Supreme Court for appointment of Amicus Curiae

        i.            In all cases where there is a possibility of life sentence or death sentence, learned Advocates who have put in minimum of 10 years practice at the Bar alone be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae or through legal services to represent an accused.

      ii.            In all matters dealt with by the High Court concerning confirmation of death sentence, Senior Advocates of the Court must first be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae.

    iii.             Whenever any learned counsel is appointed as Amicus Curiae, some reasonable time may be provided to enable the counsel to prepare the matter. There cannot be any hard and fast rule in that behalf. However, a minimum of seven days’ time may normally be considered to be appropriate and adequate.

    iv.            Any learned counsel, who is appointed as Amicus Curiae on behalf of the accused must normally be granted to have meetings and discussion with the concerned accused.

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