The word Amicus Curiae literally means a friend of the court.
As per the definition in Merriam Webster amicus Curiae is defined as - One (such
as a professional person or organization) that is not a party to a particular
litigation but that is permitted by the court to advise it in respect to some
matter of law that directly affects the case in question.
A member of the bar or other stander by, who informs the Court when doubtful or
mistaken of any fact or decided case.
Amicus curiae refers to a person who volunteers to help the court in deciding
some matters however it is the discretion of the court whether to accept it or
not, the information provided by the amicus curiae could be in the form of
brief, testimony which has not been asked by any member of the case, or a
learned treatise on the matter before the court.
Conventional wisdom holds that the brief presented by the Amicus Curiae provide
new information to the court which they aren’t exposed to via litigants and
helps to decide the matter, one important point to be noted is that Amicus
Curiae is always the person either volunteering or appointed by the court who
does not have any interest in the outcome of the case or the rule of law the
case would establish.
However in certain cases the court appoints the amicus curiae, where there is no
one to represent one of the parties to the case or where the question in the
case refers to greater public good.
What Is Amicus Brief
It’s a legal document filed by a person who does not have any interest in the
outcome of the case or files it for greater public good for example an NGO in an
- I had always understood that the role of an amicus curiae was
to help the court by expounding the law impartially, or if one of the parties
were unrepresented, by advancing the legal argument on his behalf.
Procedure To Appoint The Amicus Curiae
An advocate appointed as Amicus Curiae by the court or from the panel of
advocates at the cost of the state shall be entitled to fee at the rate of
6000/- at the admission hearing stage and Rs. 10000/- at the final disposal
stage or the regular hearing stage as fixed by the chief justice, or as may be
ordered by the court, wherefore a certificate in the form no. 10 shall be
Role of Amicus Curiae1. Acting as a counsel / an advocate may be appointed as Amicus Curiae
In the case of Md. Sukur ali v. State of Assam
, for some reason the
counsel for the accused did not appear before the court of law, and so one
important question that lay before the court was whether they could appoint an
amicus curiae for the purpose of defending the accused.
Thus focus was put on the Article 21 and Article 22(1) of the Constitution of
Article 21- Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived
of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by
Article 22 (1) - No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without
being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he
be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of
Relying upon the two articles of the constitution of India and the judgment in
the case of Powell v Alabama
, Mr. Nariman held that the accused should
not suffer merely because of the fault of counsel and rather he should be
provided with Amicus Curiae to defend him in the case as, if the judgment is
pronounced without a counsel to defend him that would be gross negligence of the
rights which are provided by the Indian Constitution.
Hence an Amicus Curiae was appointed by the court who was a lawyer practicing on
the criminal side.
2. Providing assistance in deciding of a case
In the case of Ali Ibrahim v state of Kerala
, the case related to some
unknown persons who defrauded the plaintiff to the tune of 63 lakhs of rupees,
all the transactions took place via Email and banking transactions, after which
it was decided that since this particular case is of grave nature it should be
sent to the CBI for further investigation and an Amicus Curiae was appointed,
whereby the amicus curiae provided various important aspects of the case and as
to how the investigation should be carried forward with respect to the resources
and expertise to use in the investigation of the matter, also it suggested that
the case should not be given to the National Investigation Agency as is provided
under the National Investigation Agency act, 2008 that only the cases which have
national ramifications such as terrorism shall be investigated by the NIA.
All of which was accepted by the court.
3. Cases of great public importance
In the case of Manoj Narula v Union of India and ors
. a point of great
public importance was brought up before the court and the court appointed Amicus
Curiae to assist the court. Broadly the point was about the legality of persons
with criminal background or having committed criminal offences appointed as the
ministers in the central and state governments.
On the recommendations of who a notice was sent to the Union Government to file
the affidavit within four weeks of the service of notice.
Similarly in the case of Public Union for civil liberties v. state of T.N.
. wherein Kapil Sibal was appointed as the Amicus Curiae, the case
related to the gravity of the problem of Bonded labor and steps to be taken to
implement the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act 1976. All the states were
required to organize a survey and the affidavit of the same should be submitted
to the Amicus Curiae. The amicus curiae was required to submit brief written
statements and all the states were required to comply with the written