The Lucknow High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by Shri Asok Pande (Advocate) challenging para-3 of the Circular issued by the State Government dated 26.06.2020, whereby the State Government has instructed that in absence of Advocate General, the urgent and routine work at Allahabad shall be performed by Sri Manish Goyal, Additional Advocate General, whereas at Lucknow, the same will be performed by Sri Vinod Kumar Shahi, Additional Advocate General.
The Judgment has been passed by the bench of Justice P.K. Jaiswal and Justice D.K. Singh in PIL Civil No. 12352 of 2020 [ Asok Pande vs Union of India and Others].
Contention of Petitioner:
- Advocate General is an important functionary of the Government of Uttar Pradesh and constitutional authority and, therefore, para-3 of the impugned Circular is unconstitutional as it appoints two Additional Advocate Generals to perform routine and urgent work of the office of the Advocate General in case he is not available at Allahabad and at Lucknow.
- All the powers vested with the Advocate General for the State either by the Constitution or by the different enactments are to be performed only and only by the Advocate General either he is at Lucknow or Prayagraj (Allahabad) or at any other place in the country.
- In absence of the Advocate General, work of the Advocate General cannot be entrusted to the Additional Advocate General.
- Petitioner relied upon M.K. Padmanabhan Vs. State of Kerala : 1978 Lab. I.C. 1336 and M.T. Khan Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and others (Appeal (civil) 4 of 2004, decided on 05.01.2004
The Court held:
- The Judgment of Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in M.K. Padmanabhan v. State of Kerala and Anr. : 1978 Lab I.C. 1336 which has been followed by a Division Bench of Gauhati High Court in Bhadreswar Tan Ti v. S.H. Choudhury and Anr. : AIR 1985 Gau. 32, involved the core question as to the power of State Government to appoint Additional Advocate General in State under Article 165 of the Constitution of India.
- The Constitution does not envisage that such functions be performed by more than one person. The reason therefore is obvious. If more than one person is appointed to discharge the constitutional functions as also the statutory functions, different Advocate Generals may act differently resulting in a chaos. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the Additional Advocate General so appointed is not a constitutional scheme and does not hold constitutional office.
- It is not the instruction that the power as enshrined by the Advocate General under the Constitution shall be performed by the Additional Advocate General.
- The State has distributed the work between different State Counsel(s) and para-3 of the impugned Circular only talks about the smooth assistance of the State Counsel in the absence of the Advocate General to the Court.
- Para-3 of the impugned Circular does not mean that the power of the Advocate General has been assigned to the Additional Advocate Generals for performing his functions as a whole as provided under the Constitution.
- For the reasons aforesaid, we are not inclined to entertain this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.