KOCHI: The LDF government has disbursed a whopping Rs 6.95 crore to senior advocates of the Supreme Court to fight the cases for the government in the Kerala High Court, according to the statistics collated by TNIE.As per the information received through an RTI query, the state government has also spent another Rs 14.19 crore as lawyers’ fees to appear on its behalf in the Supreme Court.
The government had come under criticism that it had engaged top SC lawyers to fight more than 10 high-profile petitions including Oommen Chandy’s petition to quash the solar commission’s report, Periya twin murder and LIFE Mission corruption case in the HC.
Besides, about Rs 33.55 lakh was spent on providing air travel and hotel accommodation for these lawyers. The RTI data exposes the exorbitant expenditure by the state government to hire high-profile lawyers while it has employed 130 government law officers including advocate-general, director-general of prosecution, two additional advocates-general, state attorney, additional director-general of prosecution and special government pleaders to serve the state in legal affairs.
“Especially in Periya murder case, the ultimate beneficiary of avoiding the CBI investigation would be the accused alone. If the investigation is retained with the state agency, all accused will be under the protection of CPM-patronised police. To protect them, the state strongly resisted the CBI probe for which the state exchequer lost crores. In effect, engaging senior SC counsel for defending a case in the HC would tantamount to underestimating the capacity of the state law officers in the HC,” said former director-general of prosecution T Asaf Ali.
If the hands of the state are clean in LIFE Mission scam, there is no reason to resist the CBI probe which is mandatory under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. The government spent Rs 55 lakh to object to a CBI probe. “If this was utilised for rehabilitation of the flood victims, that would have been a solace for a minimum of ten families,” he said. The RTI reply also revealed that the government had paid Rs 1.3 crore to senior SC lawyer Pallav Shishodia for appearing in the Kerala HC in lottery cases.
Interestingly, the state had paid Rs 1.2 crore to senior SC lawyer Ranjith Kumar to oppose the petition filed by former chief minister Chandy seeking to quash the solar commission’s report. However, the state lost the case and the HC partly allowed the petition expunging the commission’s findings against him based on a letter allegedly written by the accused, Saritha S Nair, levelling sexual allegations.
The state owed to senior SC advocate Amarendra Sharan Rs 22 lakh for representing the state to oppose the plea filed by parents of slain youth Congress leader Shuhaib at Kannur seeking a CBI probe into their son’s brutal murder. At the same time, Rs 6.44 lakh was paid to Vijay Hansaria in this case. For appearing in the lottery cases filed in 2016 and 2017, the government had spent Rs 5,31,965 for air travel and hotel accommodation of senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Sansrithi Pathak. It had also paid Rs 7,56,808 for Pallav Shishodia’s air travel and hotel accommodation.The government paid Rs 30 lakh to F S Nariman and Rs 12 lakh to Subhash Chander Sarma for consultation in cases related to Kerala from May 20, 2016, to January 21, 2021.
G1 cr given to four SC standing counsel
In reply to the query to furnish the details of a number of standing counsel appointed by the state government for appearing in the SC and their monthly remuneration paid during the last one year, the government replied that J3,000 was paid per month as retainer fee for each of them, besides their fees. However, during 2019-20, J1,00,59,508 was disbursed to four SC standing counsel for representing the state.