Appointing special counsel on victim’s request not against rules, says HC, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

BENGALURU: Appointing an advocate as special counsel on the request of the victim is not against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the high court ruled in a recent judgment.

Rejecting the petition filed by four accused, the court added that rule 4(5) of the SC/ST Rules empowers the deputy commissioner to appoint an eminent lawyer on behalf of the victim and the same cannot be misunderstood as being against the enactment. When the accused is entitled to an eminent advocate, the opportunity cannot be denied to the victim, Justice K Natarajan noted in his order.

“When the legislature framed the special Acts and rules to safeguard the interest of the victims/downtrodden people of offences under the SC and ST Act, denying the opportunity of appointment of counsel is against the object of the legislature,” the judge observed in his order.

Dismissing the petition filed by MC Cheriyan and three others, the judge also pointed out that the legislature was fully aware of the atrocities on members of SC/ST communities and had hence brought various amendments to the Act to safeguard the interests of such people.

Justice Natarajan also noted that when the state government itself wants to doubly safeguard the interestsof SC/ST communities, it cannot be expected to appoint an ordinary advocate who has put in a few years of practice to defend their cases.

Case background
The accused (petitioners) are residents of Jayapura village in Chikkamagaluru district. They had challenged the appointment of B Satish Chandra Kalavarkar as special counsel on behalf of R Janava, the complainant, in a case registered in 2019 under various provisions of the SC/ST Act.

The appointment was made on April 3, 2021 by the deputy commissioner, based on a request from the complainant. Challenging it, the petitioners argued Kalavarkar had earlier appeared as counsel for complainant Janava in a civil case and hence, he could not have been chosen as special counsel in this case.

They said the government had already appointed a panel of advocates on behalf of the prosecution and the public prosecutor is also appointed.

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