GUWAHATI, March 8 - A letter written at the behest of the Advocate General of Assam to rope in as many as five non-government lawyers to represent the forest department cases in the Gauhati High Court, and that too against the payment of ‘high professional fee’, has drawn sharp reactions from a section of government lawyers.
Questions are being asked as to why the Advocate General has opted to avail the services of lawyers from outside the government panel when the services of government counsels are available.
A section of aggrieved government lawyers, requesting anonymity, told this reporter that the letter written by the personal junior of the Advocate General (AG) of Assam not only demeans the legal prudence of the government lawyers but will also set a wrong precedent as an ‘unreasonable’ fee structure has been quoted.
The aggrieved section is now contemplating to move the Chief Minister’s Office in this connection.
The letter (dated February 27) written by advocate Anuradha Gayan, a private junior of Advocate General Chinmoy Chowdhury, to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Assam, besides quoting Rs 25,000 per appearance/per case for the appearance of the AG, also quoted the fee structure of five other lawyers, which ranged between Rs 3,000 and Rs 15,000 per appearance, for the approval of the government.
“The fee structure that the letter has quoted for the lawyers whose credentials are not known is much more than what a government lawyer is usually entitled to while representing the government cases,” a senior government lawyer said.
While referring to the existing fee structure of the senior government lawyers, he said that the existing fee structure does not even get closer to the one which has been quoted by the AG in the letter written on his behalf, which is unfortunate. “It is like questioning the professional aptitude of the government lawyers,” he opined.
The cases of the forest department mostly relate to loss of government revenue.
Meanwhile, in response to the letter written by Anuradha Gayan, the Conservator of Forests (Legal) has forwarded the same to the Principal Secretary, Environment and Forest Department for necessary approval.