Delhi govt initiates advocates welfare fund, holds law secretary responsible for delay

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Published on Sep 25, 2019 11:43 PM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi

Delhi’s law minister Kailash Gahlot on Wednesday said the government has initiated the implementation of the 50 crore welfare fund for advocates in the city courts—an initiative that was announced by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in February. Gahlot attributed the delay in implementing the fund to Delhi’s law secretary Sanjay Aggarwal, who was appointed in June 2019.

Gahlot accused Aggarwal of refusing to “follow directions of his superior authority”.

Aggarwal dismissed the allegations and said he has always conformed with Supreme Court directions.

A statement issued by Gahlot’s office on Wednesday said, “Yesterday (Sep 24), the law secretary issued notification in the matter of Delhi Advocates’ Welfare Fund (Amendment) Rules, 2019 without insisting on the Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G’s) approval. We hope that better sense has prevailed upon him and he has decided to now follow the orders of the Supreme Court. Delhi Government will now initiate the process of implementation of 50 crore welfare fund of the advocates (sic).”

On July 4, the Supreme Court had said that the L-G is bound by aid and advice of the elected government. In its judgment, the top court had also said that executive powers on all subjects barring land, police and public order shall vest with the council of ministers.

Gahlot’s statement further said, “The law secretary said that all the files should be sent to the L-G and till he approves it, the decisions of Council of Ministers cannot be implemented. This was completely contrary to the Supreme Court judgement. This brought the entire work of Law department [with regard to the implementation of the lawyer’s welfare fund] to a standstill… The law secretary refuses to follow the written directions of his superior. This was in direct contravention of his conduct rules.”

Responding to the allegations, Aggarwal said, “I have always followed directions of the Supreme Court. On June 20, I had informed the office of the law minister that as per my interpretation of the Supreme Court’s judgment, the L-G’s concurrence is not needed for implementation of all decisions of the government but he should be given enough time and opportunity to form an opinion and, if needed, refer matters to the President.”

“I take a firm stand on my legal interpretation on the issue. My legal opinions are not influenced by political biases”, he added.

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal had on September 2 directed Delhi’s chief secretary Vijay Dev to “expedite” resolution of schemes related to the welfare fund for advocates and “prioritise” the matter as per law.

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