Kerala govt spends big to hire lawyers from outside

As many as 19 advocates represented the state government in 32 cases during the tenure of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government and the first year of his second term.

Published: 13th July 2022 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2022 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

Court Hammer, judgement, order, Gavel

Representational Image. (File Photo)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the state reels under severe financial crunch, the government has shelled out a huge sum to foot the bills of ‘specialist’ lawyers it hired to present its side in sensitive cases in the Kerala High Court during the last six years.

The state government has spent Rs 8.72 crore as fees for advocates who were brought from outside when around 80 lawyers led by the advocate general and director general of prosecution are working for the state to defend its cases in higher courts. As many as 19 advocates represented the state government in 32 cases during the tenure of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government and the first year of his second term. In addition, Rs 33.54 lakh was spent on their air travel and accommodation.   

As per the documents submitted by law minister P Rajeeve in the assembly, the highest amount was spent to fight the other state lotteries and their agents who had tried a re-entry into Kerala market.

Minister defends govt on hiring outside lawyers

A sum of Rs 1.78 crore was paid as fees for Pallav Shishodia who represented the government in different cases involving the Sikkim and West Bengal lottery departments. Rs 1.20 crore was paid as fees to Ranjit Kumar, former solicitor general, who represented the government in the High Court on former chief minister Oommen Chandy’s petition against solar scam enquiry panel. Rs 55 lakh was spent for K V Viswanathan who argued against a CBI probe into the Wadakkanchery Life Mission case. Rs 16.50 lakh was spent on the case related to the takeover of Cheruvally estate.

Last year, Rs 60 lakh was paid to C S Vaidyanathan who was the government’s advocate in the case against the Election Commission of India on the conduct of election to three Rajya Sabha seats. The case had national importance since the respondents were the EC and the GoI among others. Kerala succeeded in a getting a favourable verdict that the elections to the seats fell vacant due to the retirement of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader Abdul Vahab, CPI(M) leader K K Ragesh and Congress leader Vayalar Ravi should be conducted during the tenure of the 14th Kerala Legislative Assembly itself.

A sum of `88 lakh was paid to three advocates who represented the government opposing the petition by parents of Periya double murder case who had sought a CBI probe. Senior lawyers Maninder Singh, Prabhas Bajaj and Ranjit Kumar were paid this hefty sum. The government ultimately lost the legal fight.
However, the law minister defended the government’s action.

“Nothing new in this. Successive governments have assigned experienced lawyers in cases which require those  proficient in certain domains. Constitutional law is an example,” Rajeeve said. Former law minister A K Balan said the government hires expert lawyers in certain cases where their domain expertise is required.


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