New Delhi [India], Aug 25 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Union of India and Delhi government to clear the dues of professional fees of advocates on government's panel whose bills have already been received by it till February 1, 2020, within four weeks.
The direction came on a petition, filed by a lawyer Piyush Gupta through advocate Kapil Goyal, seeking clarification from the respondents on what grounds and since when professional fee bills of empanelled lawyers are kept pending.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan also showed a little displeasure for the delay in clearing the bills of professionals fees of empanelled lawyers.
"We are issuing a direction to all the respondents to make the payment of lawyers whose bills have been received by the departments on or before 1st February 2020. We are hoping the government will not keep pending the payment of lawyers so long." the bench said.
After the direction, the High Court slated the matters for further hearing on September 29.
Whereas counsel appearing for the Delhi government said that the government is working on it and is also developing an online single window system in this regards.
The Petition said that a good amount of counsels representing the government in legal matters are facing undue financial hardship because of long pendency of their professional fee bills.
Piyush 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, he 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.
The lawyer, attaching the copy of the circular dated December 2, 2015, issued by respondent Delhi government, said that despite all directions and circular, bills are pending since long.
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 his PIL in the High Court.
He has 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. (ANI)