A Right to Information document has revealed that Law Minister A K Balan has misled the Assembly on the fee paid to lawyers to fight various cases in the Supreme Court and High Court after the Left Democratic Front government came to power in 2016.
The minister, while replying to a query from Congress legislator Sunny Joseph, informed that the highest fee of Rs 34 lakh was paid to oppose the plea for CBI inquiry into the murder of SP Shuhaib.
But it turned out to be false with the reply revealing that the government paid Rs 1.20 crore to senior Supreme Court advocate Ranjith Kumar to oppose Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's plea to cancel the Solar Commission inquiry report.
The RTI query, filed by the non-government organization Proper Channel, revealed that the minister suppressed some more facts.
The reply, provided by the Advocate General's office, showed the government had paid more than Rs 34 lakhs to fight four different cases during the last three-and-a-half years.
The government has already paid Rs 12.22 crore to lawyers to appear in 300-odd cases in the High Court and Supreme Court. The government spends more than Rs 1.5 crore for the salary of the Advocate General, Director General of Prosecution and other prosecutors.
The query revealed that the government paid senior High Court advocate Vijay Hanzaria Rs 64.40 lakh, Rs 64 lakh to Haren P Raval. It paid Rs 45 lakh to Pallav Sisodia to appear in two cases, while it is yet to pay Rs 45 lakh to Jaydeep Guopta, who appeared in 10 cases.
Solar and Shuhaib cases
Oommen Chandy had approached Supreme Court to cancel the judicial commission report, which indicted him in the multi-crore solar scam in 2017.
Congress worker Shuhaib was hacked to death, allegedly by Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers, in Mattannur in Kannur district on February 12, 2018. A single bench of Kerala High Court had, on March 7, 2018, ordered CBI inquiry into the death. Five months later, a division bench of the High Court quashed the order.