The Government, by an order issued last month, hiked the fees of the Advocate General from a monthly maximum of five lakhs to a whopping eight lakhs. The Advocate General’s per appearance fee before the High Court has now been hiked from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per case per day. In addition the Advocate General will also be now paid Rs 75,000 per official visit to Delhi for conference or per appearance before the Supreme Court. Earlier the Advocate General was paid Rs 25,000 per appearance before the Supreme Court and was not entitled to any conference charges while in Delhi.
The Advocate General’s house rent allowance has been doubled from a monthly Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. The Advocate General is also entitled to personal staff as allowed to a Cabinet Minister. The hike in the Advocate General’s fees is retrospective with effect from 1st April last year.
As per the file notings the Law department by its note dated 24th August last year while proposing that the per appearance fee before the High Court be increased from Rs 8000 to Rs 10000 had stated that the maximum of Rs five lakhs a month be maintained. The proposal was cleared by the Finance department and even approved by the cabinet meeting held on 7th November last year. The file notings show that Chief Minister in his noting dated 31st December citing it as error on account of communication gap directed that the monthly maximum be increased to eight lakhs a month instead of the approved five lakhs.
The file notings however do not indicate what the communication gap was as all the directions were written and there were no oral orders.
As per the Chief Minister’s direction the revised fees were placed once again before the cabinet on 27th Feb this year which approved the hike to a maximum of a monthly eight lakhs for appearances before the High Court and in addition Rs 75,000 for every visit to Delhi for conference or appearance before the Supreme Court.
The documents also reveal that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar by a note moved on 30th July last year directed that hence forth no Senior Counsel be engaged by the Government in any matter whatsoever before the Supreme Court or Green tribunal. The Chief Minister further directed that the State Government will be led by the Advocate General in all matters before the Supreme Court.
Ironically while the Government has hiked the fees of India’s highest paid Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni on grounds of inflation and that too with retrospective effect, the government has not yet increased the fees of other government advocates in the High Court and the subordinate Courts.
The file notings show that the Chief Minister had on 4th September last year approved a very nominal increase in fees payable to the Government Advocates and Additional Government Advocates in the High Court. While maintaining the current Rs 2500 per case the Chief Minister gave his approval to increase their monthly maximum from Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000. As per the records the approval continues to lie in cold storage with no order yet issued.
Meanwhile, reiterating that the fees of the Advocate General of Goa be slashed and brought on par with other States, Adv. Aires Rodrigues has strongly criticized Chief Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar for being only concerned about the inflation faced by India’s highest paid Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni who was already being paid Rs five lakhs a month.
Adv. Rodrigues has stated that a perusal of the file notings on the fee hike given to the Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni clearly exposes that this government has got its priorities absolutely wrong.