Delaying lawyers’ payment to invite up to 18% fine: HC

Court has issued directions to Centre, Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana government departments to act against nodal officers for delay in clearance of their counsels’ dues
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Published on Sep 08, 2019 12:37 AM IST
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HT Correspondent | ByHT Correspondent, Chandigarh

The pending bills of lawyers, if not paid in time, will invite up to 18% penalty on the government department concerned, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said.

Taking note of governments, corporations and other semi-government bodies not clearing lawyers’ dues in time, the high court bench of justice RN Raina has issued a slew of directions to Centre, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Initially, the matter had come to light in July 2017, when the family of a taxation lawyer, who died in 2013, had moved the court over his pending dues, following which the high court had asked respondents to appoint nodal officers.

The high court has now issued fresh interim directions to the respondents.

As of pending disputes, the nodal officers have been asked to settle the dispute amicably, otherwise record a reason for it and inform the lawyer. Governments have been asked to act against officers who fail to act in time. In case a nodal officer fails to take final decision and do not release the money within 14 days after a meeting with the counsel, his services shall be placed under suspension and he shall not be paid salary till the bills are cleared.  Pending bills will carry 6% interest per annum till one month and 9% after that. Beyond two months, the penalty will be 12%, and 18% percent after six months.

The respondents have also been asked to intimate the lawyer if the nodal officer is changed, and insert a link on their official website regarding fee bills, and upload data from time to time. A compliance report, too, has been sought by November 5, failing which the nodal officers would have to remain present before the court.  

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