HC asks Centre, Delhi govt to speed up clearance of fees of panel counsels

·2-min read
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

New Delhi [India], January 8 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Centre and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to speed up the process to clear all the pending six-month-old bills of their respective panel counsels.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh showed disappointment over the delay and said that it is not right for a counsel to approach the court for his or her professional fees. The court slated the matter for February 12.

However, Advocate Chetan Sharma, Additional Solicitor General representing Union of India apprised the court that the government has dispersed the funds in this regard and payment process has already been initiated.

Petitioner Piyush Gupta, in his plea, said that government counsels play a vital role in the justice delivery system but it is unfortunate that the administration has no concern for their livelihood as their professional bills are lying pending for a long time. Their fees are their only source of income but the concerned departments have not cleared their bills despite various representations and despite specific directions by the court in its order dated September 3, 2015.

The petition stated that a large number of counsels representing the government in legal matters are facing undue financial hardship because of the long pendency of their professional fee bills.

The petitioner claimed that he himself tried to persuade various officers to clear the professional fee bills of those panel lawyers but no action so far has been taken by the concerned departments, hence he moved a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the high court.

The petitioner has sought directions to respondents to immediately clear all the pending professional fee bills of the government counsels including Standing Counsels, Additional Standing Counsels, Panel Counsels, Government Pleaders, Public Prosecutors, Additional Public Prosecutors.

"It is very painful that despite specific directions issued by this court vide its order dated 03.09.2015 to clear all the pending bills of the Government Counsels, the respondents are not following the order in its true spirit," said the petition.

"It would be pertinent to state that Delhi Government has even issued a circular dated 02.12.2015 thereby informing all the concerned departments about the issuance of directions by this court in the petition and further requesting them to ensure immediate clearance of pending professional fee bills of panel advocates," it added. (ANI)