Who is an Amicus Curiae?

There are many situations when neither we are able to help ourselves nor our parents who usually make decisions for us. In such cases, sometimes there comes some outsider who help us with our problems to resolve them. So, something same goes around in the legal world too, where an outsider gets himself/herself involved in the case matter to help court with the questions of facts and laws. And the person who do this is known as ‘Amicus Curiae’, the literal meaning of this is – ‘friend of a court’. Thus, this translation clearly suggests its role. A person who perform the role of friend to a court is never a party to the case he/she lends help in. Rather such person has no give and take interest from the case but either voluntarily comes up to help the court through his/her knowledge or is appointed by the court itself to assist and help it in certain matters.

According to the rule of procedure, when an amicus curiae is appointed, it is entitled to fee of Rs. 6000/- at initial stage and Rs. 10,000 at the final hearing stage. Along with this, a certificate shall also be issued with form no. 10. There are many instances where people from different field comes up and perform the role of amicus curiae. Most of the time, this concept comes in the cases of human rights violation where people or advocates indulge themselves into the matter for protection of such rights. Also, if a court is referring some historian law to decide upon the case then any historian can act as an amicus curiae to court in order to interpret and provide expertise about the same.

Also there are situations where court has to appoint one in order to provide legal counsel to a party who is not in a position to arrange the same for itself. Amicus curiae can play a significant role in progress of a case but its powers are limited as it wholly the discretion of the respective court whether to go ahead with the briefs, analysis, testimonies or legal opinions provided by him/her. However, this concept of a friend to court is a prudent one as many cases show.

For example there was a case of Ali Ibrahim Vs. State of Kerala where a fraud of Rs. 63 lakhs was done by a group of people to plaintiff and since all the transactions were through electronic modes the case was becoming grave, thus court gave it in hands of CBI and appointed an amicus curiae to look into and give instructions for the investigation and submit the essentials to court, also on the advice of amicus curiae court prevented itself to give the case to National investigating agency as it deals only with cases of terrorism interest. Thus, it is a great example of how concept of amicus curiae not only give to courts the advice on rule and law but also lighten the burden of our judiciary.

There have been many renowned personalities like AG Venugopala, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, etc who have played the role of amicus curiae to the highest court of India and have aided the chambers to help gain justice in many situations when both the counsels have almost killed justice. And this was possible these people remained unbiased and helped to gain what is called pure justice. In recent times, many people from academic world who have also gained some skills from pragmatic legal world have stated taking up this responsibility. This trend of academia taking up the such hefty roles can be a promising one for the future as everyone including courts need a upskilled friend.

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