1. What is Amicus Curiae?
  2. #1 Helping in PIL
  3. #2 Doing Investigation
  4. #3 Defending the accused

What is Amicus Curiae?

  • In simple language, “amicus curiae” means “friend of the court”.
  • Amicus Curaie is required in following situations

#1 Helping in PIL

  • In many high-profile PILs, the courts appoint an amicus curiae,  to assist them in formulating a viewpoint and to make inquiries and reports.
  • In several major PIL judgments on prison reform, terrorism, environment, mentally deficient litigants, freedom of the media, unauthorised occupation of government premises and unauthorised constructions, decisions have been based on the assistance provided by the amicus.

#2 Doing Investigation

  • There is another kind of amicus curiae, appointed in cases that are not PILs, where important questions of law are involved and both parties are represented but the court still wants a senior lawyer to assist it. (e.g. Supreme Court appointed Raju Ramachandran as amicus to investigate allegations of Narendra Modi’s complicity in the Gujarat riots.)

#3 Defending the accused

  • The “traditional” amicus curiae is the one who is asked to represent the accused in a criminal appeal.
  • This happens in two situations:
    1. when the Accused is too poor and/or requests the court to provide him a lawyer (for example same Raju Ramahandran defending Kasab.)
    2. or when the criminal does not engage his own lawyer to defend him against the State. (For example members of the LTTE refused to represent themselves in Indian court)
  • Supreme Court and the high courts maintain panels of lawyers who are assigned amicus work in criminal appeals.
  • The Supreme Court has mandated that legal aid, that is, a lawyer representing a poor accused, is a must in criminal cases.