Plea in HC seeks fees clearance of empanelled govt advocates

New Delhi: Taking note that a good amount of counsels representing the government in legal matters are facing undue financial hardship due to long pendency of their professional fee, an advocate has moved Delhi High Court seeking direction to immediately clear the pending professional fee bills of panel advocates of government.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan has scheduled the petition, filed by lawyer Piyush Gupta through advocate Kapil Goyal, to be heard on August 25.

The petition seeks directions to Delhi government and other concerned authorities to file detail status reports, specifically clarifying on what grounds and since when professional fee bills of empanelled lawyers are kept pending.

It also seeks to impose a heavy penalty upon the respondents if the directions issued by this court vide its order dated September 3, 2015, were not complied with strictly in future.

Gupta, in his petition, said that government counsels play a vital role in justice delivery system but it is unfortunate that administration has no concern for their livelihood as their professional bills are lying pending since long which is 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.

A large number of advocates are empanelled to represent different government authorities.

Citing that the courts are closed since March 17, the plea said that the government counsels are facing undue financial hardship because of long pendency of their professional fee bills and the respondents are not even adhering to the specific directions issued by the High Court earlier.

According to the petition, the aggrieved persons under the fear of losing their panels couldn't approach this court and approached the petitioner.

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 with the present PIL in the High Court.

The plea 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 September 3, 2015, to clear all the pending bills of the Government Counsels, the respondents are not following the order in its true spirit. It would be pertinent to state that Delhi government has even issued a Circular dated December 2, 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," the plea said.

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