New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary today appeared before the Supreme Court and tendered an unconditional apology for the confusion which prevailed due to the non-appearance of lawyers representing the state.

The newly appointed Chief Secretary, Vineet Chaudhary, was summoned by the top court on February 7, as none of the lawyers representing the state had appeared before the bench to argue a criminal matter.

The apex court told the top officer of the state to take extra care in the future so that they do not go unrepresented in cases before it, or face “appropriate action”.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer asked the 1982 batch IAS officer about the problem and why cases before the top court were going unrepresented.

“This is not the only matter. Various cases have gone unrepresented. What is the problem. Have you appointed anybody,” the bench asked Chaudhary.

The chief secretary said he had assumed the charge only in the month of January and a new counsel has been appointed to represent the state in the Supreme Court after the new government had come to power.

“If you have appointed someone, then why no one was there to represent the state in the matter. Have you read our order,” the bench asked him.

Chaudhary replied that he had read the order and advocate Ajay Marwah will be representing the state at present in apex court.

“You have to take extra care in future. Cases cannot go unrepresented in the highest court of the land or we will take appropriate action,” the bench observed.

Chaudhary assured the apex court that in future this confusion won’t happen and before that situation arises appropriate steps will be taken. “We are sorry for the confusion,” he said.

On February 7, the top court had summoned the Chief Secretary and termed it as an “unfortunate” that there was no representation on behalf of Himachal Pradesh and the lawyer present had no instruction to appear in the matter.

The court’s order had come during the hearing of a criminal appeal pending since 2011, when it to know if there was any remission scheme pending for considering early release of convicts who had suffered more than 15 years of incarceration.

Confusion had prevailed in the apex court as the newly elected BJP government in the state had on January 17 issued a notification abolishing the posts of Additional Advocate General and supporting staff created by the Virbhadra Singh dispensation for Legal Cell of the state in Delhi through an order dated September 5, 2013.

The incumbent Jai Ram Thakur government in the state on January 17 ordered for bringing the Legal Cell, New Delhi, under the control of the prosecution department as per practice followed during the tenure of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal from 2007-2012 and the initial years of the Virbhadra Singh government till 2013.

The new government had also ordered the revival or restoration of the post of District Attorney and supporting staff.

Due to the new notification, the two Additional Advocates General working in the legal cell of the state here, who were appearing in various matters including sensitive cases, stopped appearing in the apex court, resulting in the state going going unrepresented.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.