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The order was passed in a petition highlighting the issue of non-payment of dues to government empanelled advocates for several months.
The Delhi High Court today directed the Delhi Government, municipal bodies and Central Government to clear within four weeks the bills raised by their empanelled counsel on or before February 1, 2020 (Piyush Gupta vs GNCTD & Ors).
The order was passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Parteek Jalan in a petition preferred by Advocate Piyush Gupta who is also the co-Chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi.
The Petitioner highlighted the issue of non-payment of dues to advocates on several government panels.
Stating that the professional bills raised by these advocates had not been cleared for several months now, the Petitioner asserted,
The Court was informed that as per an order passed in 2015, the government bodies were under an obligation to clear professional dues of empanelled advocates within two months of the bill being raised.
In response, the Delhi Government today stated that it has decided to open an "online window module" to enable its standing counsel to upload their bills online.
The Court, however, expressed its displeasure at the situation and warned the officials concerned of consequences. The Court suggested that the bills raised prior to six months should at least be paid at the earliest by the Delhi Government.
The Central Government also stated that it would open a similar module for its standing counsel.
After hearing the parties, the Court acknowledged the lack of revenue with the government bodies due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and proceeded to direct that the bills that were raised prior to February 1, 2020, should be cleared within 4 weeks.
Initially, the direction was issued only qua the Delhi Government. However, on a request made by other empanelled counsel, the Court directed all respondents, including East Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi Development Authority, as well as Central Government, to clear dues older than 6 months within 4 weeks.
The Court assured the empanelled counsel that the professional dues for the remaining period shall also be taken care of.
Let them clear this period first, the Court said.
ASG Chetan Sharma appeared for the Centre. Delhi Govt was represented by Advocate Santosh Tripathi. The petition was filed through Advocates Piyush Gupta and Kapil Goyal.
The matter would be heard next on September 29.