FAQ on Panel Counsel for Union of India

The Department of Legal Affairs empanels advocates as ‘Panel Counsel’ for the Union of India to represent them in various courts/tribunals in India. Empanelment is generally for a period of three years or until further orders.

The application for empanelment requires details such as the desired court/tribunal and panel category, as well as a detailed and signed bio-data. Panel Counsel are paid professional fees on a case-to-case basis as per the fee schedule applicable to their panel category.

Detailed terms and conditions applicable to various categories of panel counsel are governed by various Office Memoranda of the Department of Legal Affairs. In case of misconduct or violation of terms and conditions, a due enquiry is conducted and the Panel Counsel can be removed from the panel by the Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON
EMPANELMENT OF ADVOCATES FOR UNION OF INDIA

Q.1 What is ‘Panel Counsel’ for Union of India?

Department of Legal Affairs has been mandated with conduct of litigations on behalf of Union of India before various courts / tribunals in India. For this purpose, Department of Legal Affairs empanels Advocates for various courts / tribunals in the country generally for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier. There are several categories (court-wise) in which this Department empanels Advocates and such empanelled Advocates are collectively called as ‘Panel Counsel’ for Union of India. However, ‘Panel Counsel’ is not a civil post and as such they are not regular Government Servant.

Q.2 Documentation / details required in the application for empanelment as a Panel Counsel for Union of India?

(a) Name of court / tribunal seeking empanelment for.
(b) Desired category of Panel Counsel available in that court / tribunal.
(c) Certification on part of willing Advocate that he/she will be bound by all the terms
& conditions (including fee) applicable to desired category of ‘Panel Counsel’ in
the desired court/tribunal.
(d) A detailed and duly signed Bio-data may be enclosed with application incorporating the necessary details like name, postal address, contact numbers, email, legal qualifications, full enrollment number with the Bar Council concerned.

Q.3 What categories of Panel Counsel for Union of India are available with Department of Legal Affairs?

Sl. No.Name of Court / TribunalAvailable categories of Panel Counsel
1Supreme Court of India(i) Group ‘A’ Panel Counsel
(ii) Group ‘B’ Panel Counsel
(iii) Group ‘C’ Panel Counsel
2High Court of Delhi(i) Central Govt. Standing Counsel
(ii) Senior Panel Counsel
(iii) Government Pleader
3High Court of Bombay (PB) at Mumbai, and, High Court of Calcutta (PB) at Kolkata along-with CAT Mumbai and Kolkata Bench(i) Special Counsel
(ii) Senior Counsel Group – I
(iii) Senior Counsel Group – II
(iv) Junior Counsel
4All the other High Courts and their Benches alongwith Benches of High Court of Bombay at Nagpur, Aurangabad & Goa and the High Court of Calcutta at Jalpaiguri, Port Blair.(i) Senior Panel Counsel
(ii) Central Government Counsel
5All CAT Benches throughout the country(except CAT Benches at Mumbai and Kolkata)(i) Senior Central Government Standing Counsel
(ii) Senior Panel Counsel
(iii) Additional Central Government Standing Counsel
6All AFT Benches throughout the country(i) Senior Central Government Standing Counsel
(ii) Senior Panel Counsel
(iii) Central Government Counsel
7District Courts in Delhi(i) Senior Panel Counsel
(ii) Additional Central Government Counsel
8All District & Subordinate Courts throughout the country (except in Delhi)(i) Standing Government Counsel
(ii) Additional Standing Government Counsel

Q.4 What emoluments are paid to ‘Panel Counsel’?

As ‘Panel Counsel’ for Union of India are not Government Servant, they are not paid salaries and allowances. They are paid professional fee on case to case basis in lieu of their services as per the fee schedule applicable to their panel category. However, there are a few categories of ‘Panel Counsel’ which are paid retainership fee on monthly basis throughout their term in the entitled category. The fee schedule in this regard is as per this Department’s OM No. 26(1)/2014-Judl. dated 01.10.2015 to be read with other OMs containing detailed terms & conditions applicable to ‘Panel Counsel’.

Q.5 What is procedure for allotment of cases to ‘Panel Counsel’?

Except in the Supreme Court of India, in all other courts / tribunals, allotment of cases to Panel Counsel is made by the Litigation In-charge of court concerned. The Litigation In-charges have been decided by the Department of Legal Affairs in OM No. J-12017/1/2019-Judicial dated 21.10.2019. While in Supreme Court, Ld. Attorney General for India selects cases for his own appearance while other cases are marked by the Ld. Solicitor General of India to Additional Solicitors General of India and Panel Counsel vide OM No. J-12017/1/2022-Judicial dated 13.09.2022.

Q.6 Is there any sanctioned strength of Panel Counsel (Court-wise)?

As stated earlier ‘Panel Counsel’ for Union of India is not a civil post hence, the concept of sanctioned strength is not applicable in case of ‘Panel Counsel’. Advocates are empanelled for a particular court / tribunal by Department of Legal Affairs in numbers as required from time to time.

Q.7 Are the Panel Counsel for Union of India allowed for private practice?

Panel Counsel for Union of India may continue their private practice but with restriction to the extent that they cannot appear / advise in matters against Union of India in any manner vide Department of Legal Affairs OM No. J-16/11/2017-Judicial dated 08.02.2018.

Q.8 What are the terms & conditions applicable to Panel Counsel for Union of India?

The detailed terms & conditions applicable to various categories of panel counsel (court-wise) are governed by various Office Memoranda of Department of Legal Affairs, as indicated below:

Sl.No.OM No. and dateApplicable to panel for
121(4)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999Supreme Court of India
224(2)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999Delhi High Court, CAT (PB), AFT (PB)
323(1)/1987-Judl. dated 24.04.1987High Court of Bombay (PB) at Mumbai, CAT Mumbai Bench
423(1)/87-Judl. dated 05.06.1987High Court of Calcutta (PB) at Kolkata, CAT Kolkata Bench
526(2)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999High Court of Karnataka (PB) at Bengaluru, CAT Bengaluru Bench
625(3)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999High Court of Madras (PB) at Chennai, CAT Chennai Bench
726(1)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999Rest of the High Courts in the country including Benches of the High Court of Bombay and the High Court of Calcutta, CAT Benches (excluding CAT Mumbai & CAT Kolkata) and AFT Benches in the country.
827(11)/99-Judl. dated 24.09.1999All the District & Subordinate Courts throughout the country.

All the above OMs are available on website of this Department i.e. www.legalaffairs.gov.in under tab ‘Judicial Section’ in the link ‘Circulars pertaining to litigation’.

Q.9 What action can be taken against a Panel Counsel on mis-conduct?

On receipt of a complaint against any panel counsel, due enquiry is conducted and in case a mis-conduct or violation of terms & conditions by a Panel Counsel is proved, the Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice can remove him / her from the panel.

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