The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday said that taxpayers’ money cannot be misused by lawyers representing the Uttar Pradesh government, as well as its authorities and corporations.
The High Court was deciding on a contempt petition for non-compliance with its directions regarding payment of compensation for the acquisition of land by the Uttar Pradesh government.
While dismissing the contempt petition, the court noted that MC Chaturvedi, additional advocate general of Uttar Pradesh, wanted to record his appearance not just for the state but also for the Ghaziabad Development Authority, even though a senior advocate had already appeared for the authority.
The court also observed that additional advocate generals and chief standing counsels appointed by the state government were also appearing for different state authorities and raising two bills.
‘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 noted.
In such cases, the additional amount should be recovered from the lawyers as it is “taxpayers’ money which cannot be misused”, the court added.
State lawyers not assisting courts
Further, the court noted that Uttar Pradesh has twelve additional advocate generals at the Allahabad High Court – six in Allahabad and six at its Lucknow bench.
Additionally, there are 18 chief standing counsels, eight in Allahabad High Court and 10 before its Lucknow bench. Apart from this, there are several additional chief standing counsels, standing counsels and brief holders. In total, there are more than 400 state empanelled lawyers.
Despite this, the court said that in many important matters, most additional advocate generals and chief standing counsels are not appearing for the state and the cases are going unrepresented. The judge said that the law officers appeared to be interested in appearing for development authorities and corporations instead.
“There are huge number of cases where the assistance from the State side is needed but the assistance is not available to the Court,” it said. “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.”
It added, “After all it is the tax payers money which is being used in the payment of State counsel.”
Outsourcing of lawyers
The court also sought to draw the government’s attention to rampant outsourcing of legal work.
“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,” it said.
It added, “It is expected from the State to have a balanced and competent panel of lawyers without any need of assistance from outsiders. The appearance of lawyers not from the panel of the State shows that the lawyers empanelled with the State don’t have much competence to defend the State and its authorities and corporations.”
Directions to the government
The court directed the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh to make a plan on how to improve the working of the state counsels at the High Court and place the matter before the Cabinet for taking appropriate action.
The chief secretary has been asked to inform the court about the progress made in this regard within two months.