Standing Counsel Appearing For State And Another Authority Can't Raise Two Bills- Allahabad HC Terms The Practice A Misconduct
The Allahbad High Court has held that a government counsel appearing for the state as well as another authority cannot raise two bills.
"In the present case if two bills are raised by the one counsel, one from the State side and other from the development authority, it shows his misconduct", the Bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal held.
The Court commented on the issue while disposing of a contempt petition. "How a counsel can raise two bills one for representing the State as Additional Advocate General and other from the development authority i.e. Ghaziabad Development Authority. In case, any such bills have been raised by any Additional Advocate General or Chief Standing Counsel from the State and development authority or corporation of the State in one case, the said amount should be recovered from him as it is tax payers money which cannot be misused", the Bench held.
After disposing of a contempt petition involving numerous rounds of litigation, the Court placed on record its displeasure about the conduct of Additional Advocate General Sri M.C. Chaturvedi who made a request when the judgment was reserved, for recording his appearance, not only for the State of U.P. but also for the Ghaziabad Development Authority.
"Once Sri Ravi Kant, learned Senior Counsel, has appeared and argued on behalf of the Authority, no question arose for recording the name of Additional Advocate General for his appearance on behalf of the Authority also", the Court said.
The Court said that it is pained to note the fact that the State is having six Additional Advocate General in the Allahabad High Court and six Additional Advocate General at the Lucknow Bench of this Court. It noted that additionally, there are eight Chief Standing Counsel at Allahabad High Court and 10 Chief Standing Counsel at the Lucknow Bench, apart from number of Additional Chief Standing Counsel, Standing Counsel and Brief Holders.
The Court noted that it has become a routine in the Court that Additional Advocate General and the Chief Standing Counsel who are appointed by the State Government to represent their case in the Allahabad High Court are also holding brief of various development authorities and the corporations. "Though, there is no bar for the same, but these counsel are raising bills from the State as well as the development authorities", the Court observed.
"This Court also finds that in important matters most of these Additional Advocate Generals and Chief Standing Counsel are not appearing and the cases are going unrepresented on behalf of the State, and their only interest is in appearing in the matters of development authorities and corporations. There are huge number of cases where the assistance from the State side is needed but the assistance is not available to the Court", the Bench observed.
The Court observed that if the Additional Advocate Generals and Chief Standing Counsel have sufficient time to represent the development authorities and corporations, then there is no need for the State to have such large panels of lawyers and incur huge financial liability. "After all it is the tax payers money which is being used in the payment of State counsel. This Court also wants to bring to the notice of the Government that there is lot of outsourcing of the lawyers on behalf of State and its various authorities and corporations and a big amount of tax payers money is being used", the Court noted.
The Court also observed that appearance of lawyers not from the panel of the State shows that the lawyers empanelled with the State are not competent to defend the State and its authorities and corporations.
The Court said that it is stunned to read the order of the Special Secretary of the State nominating two Additional Advocate Generals of the State to receive the notices in contempt matters. The Court observed that in contempt matters the notices are issued directly by the Court to the contemnor and there is no provision of service of notice upon the State counsel.
"The Chief Secretary shall further apprise the Cabinet as to whether there is any requirement of having so many Additional Advocate Generals and Chief Standing Counsel at Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow Bench to defend the State when there are more than 400 State lawyers already empanelled", the Court observed while directing the Chief Secretary to apprise the working of the State Law Department in Allahabad High Court and place the matter before the Cabinet for taking appropriate action and make a draft plan as to how the working is to be improved regarding the State counsel in the Allahabad High Court as well as its Lucknow Bench.
The Court directed the Registrar to communicate its order to the Chief Secretary within 48 hours.