Kejriwal’s law dept rejects paying bills of advocates hired by Delhi govt

New Delhi: The law department of Delhi government has refused to pay several bills raised by senior advocates due to blatant non-compliance of financial rules and violation of terms of engagement by Law Minister Kailash Gahlot, sources said.

A source in the law department said on Tuesday that it seems obvious that Gahlot did so in full knowledge of the rules to be followed in such matters and flouted the same with the deliberate intent of not making the payments and blame the law department instead.

“After all, any official of the government will not condone illegal financial payments for the fear of invoking unfavourable audit paras by the CAG, which often lead to investigation by agencies and harassment of officers,” said the source.

Among several others, bills amounting to Rs 15,50,000 raised by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, and bills amounting to Rs 9,80,000 raised by another senior advocate Rahul Mehra have been turned down by the law department, citing blatant departure from rules put in place by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government itself for engagement of senior advocates and advocates on record (AoR).

The law department has also not agreed to the appointment of Kapil Sibal and Rahul Mehra, and AoRs Jyoti Mendiratta and Sudhanshu Padhi in various matters in which they were engaged directly by Gahlot.

“Gahlot did so in absolute circumvention and violation of rules that essentially require concurrence of the finance department before moving the proposal on file by the law department for approval of the Law Minister before an advocate can be engaged, which also puts a question mark on several other bills that are pending disposal,” the source said.

The Principal Secretary (Law) has submitted a report to the Law Minister, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena, under Rule 57 of the Transaction of Business of GNCT of Delhi Rules (ToBR), intimating the department’s inability to process the bills in view of violation of rules.

Rahul Mehra was engaged directly by Gahlot via an un-official note dated May 28, 2021 in the case of Govind Swarup Chaturvedi vs State of NCT of Delhi and Others, which pertained to an AAP government scheme providing insurance benefits only to advocates with voter IDs of Delhi.

Similarly, Kapil Sibal was engaged by Gahlot through an un-official order dated Octorber 23, 2018 in the matter of WP(C) 10494/2018 in the Delhi High Court. The case concerned a suo motu writ petition wherein the court took up the matter of non-appointment of presiding officers in various family courts in the national capital, despite directions to this effect by the high court.

Sibal had submitted the bill directly to Gahlot, which is a gross viiolation of the laid down procedure, the source said.

The laid down process in the matter of engaging and paying senior advocates on behalf of the government in the Supreme Court and high court involves fixation of amount payable to the advocates prior to their engagement and then getting the amount so agreed cleared by the finance department. Only thereafter can a person be engaged after seeking approval of the Law Minister on file, which has to be then approved by the L-G in advance.

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