HC warns of holding Sr officials' salaries for not clearing empanelled lawyers 6-mth old bills

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday warned the Centre and the AAP government of putting on hold the salaries of senior officials if they fail to clear the bills, pending for six months or more, of lawyers empanelled by them.

The high court was informed by the counsel for the Centre and the Delhi government that the payment process has started and some bills have been cleared while others are in pipeline and will be cleared soon.

The authorities sought more time to clear all the pending bills of the panel lawyers.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked the authorities to clear all the bills which are six months old or more or else the court will stay the salaries of senior officials, including secretary level.

“It should not happen that advocates are not getting their six months old bills cleared and not getting salaries,” the bench said.

The high court was hearing a petition filed by Piyush Gupta, a lawyer, who has contended that the government lawyers were facing financial hardships during the prevailing situation when courts are closed as their professional fees and bills, the only source of income for some, have been pending for long.

During the hearing Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, submitted that the sanctioned budget for empanelled advocates was Rs 9 crore and they have cleared the full amount.

“We have completely honoured the desirous dictate on this,” he said.

Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahulwalia, representing the Narcotics Control Bureau, submitted that bills of the concerned advocate were forwarded to NCB and were being processed.

The high court granted time to the authorities to clear the advocates bills and listed the matter for further hearing on February 12.

An impleadment application was earlier filed in the pending petition by a central government lawyer claiming that his professional fees have not been paid for some time and several of his bills have been pending for long.

The plea has said that fees or bills of several Delhi government lawyers have been pending for long.

The court had allowed the central government's empanelled lawyer to be impleaded as a party in the main matter.

It had directed the Centre and AAP government to clear as early as possible all the more than six months old bills generated by their respective empanelled lawyers. PTI SKV SA