Sh. Pranab Mukharjee,
Hon’ble President of India
PAYMENT OF LEGAL FEE BY GOVERNMENT ORGANISATIONS
As your kind honour is aware that various Govt. organs have to engage counsels for putting forth cases before Courts and Tribunals. I am astonished to gain knowledge that Union Public Service Commission has engaged advocates at very high Legal Fees, and wasting public money by paying hefty fees to advocates like charity. UPSC has engaged two advocates in SLP No.16870/2012 at fees of Rs. 686310. It is also observed that Sh. Rohinton F. Nariman has been paid Rs.550000 in the case but he has never appeared in court in the case as per record. Thus the money has been paid under a conspiracy by UPSC Authorites for no work done.
The public Authorities are trustees for the public, and they have no authority to distribute public money like charity. A trustee is a custodian only and he is not owner of custodial money. Moreover no TDS for income tax and service tax has been reported deducted from the amount. I understand that UPSC has not been following any norms or policy in respect of legal fees. While the Supreme Court of India has framed rules for taxing legal fees. SC pays Rs.10000/- to advocates appointed by it in a case. Department of Legal Affairs has also fixed legal fee of Rs.8000/- for filing SLP in SC. All government organs should follow these guidelines while paying fees to advocates and there is no justification for paying hefty and excessive fees. UPSC has paid total Fees over Rs. 20 lakh in the FY 2012-13. Central Information Commission has engaged legal Retainers @ Rs.20000/ p.m. on contractual basis. The Legal Retainers may be also required to do any other work according to need.
Further it has been also observed that the whole fees has been sanctioned and paid in a single installment. However advocate may detach from work during pendency or rendered incapacitated, but UPSC might have to engage another advocate without getting the refund of fees paid earlier. Therefore the payment of agreed fees should be apportioned in 4 installments, and be paid according the progress of the case as provided in General Rules (Civil ) Rajasthan. The first installment of 25% fees may be paid in advance, second installment on service of notice upon the opposite party, third installment on filing counter affidavit or written statement of opponent and the fourth final installment be disbursed after final arguments.
If there exists law on the land, and Judges are able then no high profile and costlier advocates are required for pleading genuine and true cases except for fixing courts or opponent advocate or twist crafting and planting the facts. Because the cases, in a society governed by Rule of Law, are expected to be decided on facts and not according to faces of parties or their advocates.
The litigation in general is attributed to faulty administrative or policy decisions and government has to plead in courts. Therefore Legal Retainers may be engaged on contractual basis and prior opinions be obtained on such matters prone to litigation. The Retainers be directed to furnish their legal opinion within a time bound programme. Engaging retainers may prove helpful in pleading litigation arises even after obtaining opinion.
Therefore it is requested humbly that the Fees paid without any work and excessive fees paid be recovered from the respective advocates, a comprehensive policy for legal fees be framed for all the Government Organs. The Authority who sanctioned fees without any appearance of Advocates in Court alongwith the recipient advocates be proceeded against in accordance with criminal law applicable. It will be a matter of pleasure for me if CBI be directed to conduct an enquiry in the matter of conspiracy and misuse of power and position. The apportionment and scales of fees payable be fixed and strictly adhered to by all Government Organs.
Your Constitutional Office is requested to interfere in the matter and save public money from incurring wasteful expenditure. I shall be glad to know the action taken by your kind honour in this behalf.
Mani Ram Sharma