A lawyer had to knock the doors of the Supreme Court to seek a direction to his client, the Rajasthan government, to clear his bills totalling Rs 48 lakh pending since 1994.
A bench of Justics N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer came to his aid and directed the state government to pay Rs 48.01 lakh to lawyer Aruneshwar Gupta within four weeks.
The top court had appointed senior advocate Shekhar Naphade as an amicus curiae to assist it and find out the actual outstanding professional fees of Gupta, who used to represent the state government at various courts of law.
“I, therefore, recommend to this court that Gupta is entitled to receive a total sum of Rs 48.01 lakh only. I am further of the view that no advocate should claim interest on bill amounts, especially in the case of bills relating to the Government. Therefore, I am not inclined to recommend grant of any interest,” Naphade, in its report, suggested to the court.
Accepting the report, the bench ordered, “We direct the counsel appearing for the state of Rajasthan to pay the entire amount, as aforesaid, within a period of four weeks from today to Aruneshwar Gupta, the learned counsel.”
The bench also proposed that a fee of Rs 2.5 lakh be given as fees to Naphade.
However, he refused to accept the fees and rather suggested that the amount be paid to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for welfare of lawyers.
“Naphade is not ready to receive the amount and suggests that the said amount may be given to the Supreme Court Bar Association for the welfare of its members.
“Accordingly, we direct the learned counsel for the State to pay the said amount to the SCBA for welfare of its members,” the court said.
Though lawyers, representing private parties, usually charge fees in advance, the advocates, who appear for government departments, raise the bills which are cleared later.
Gupta had raised 57 bills for the period he had appeared as an advocate for Rajasthan but these were not cleared.