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Moneylife » Life » Right to Information » Goa’s Advocate General is the highest paid across the country, reveals RTI

Goa’s Advocate General is the highest paid across the country, reveals RTI

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Vinita Deshmukh | 15/05/2013 11:22 AM | 

Goa’s Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni is being paid Rs8 lakh per month excluding other perks, the highest amount paid to an AG across the country. Even the Attorney General of India is paid Rs90,000 per month. Nadkarni’s fees were increased by the Parrikar government in Goa through an order last month, says a RTI activist

 

(Goa's Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar lightening lamp at a function. Behind him (with folded hands) is the state's Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni)
 
The Advocate General (AG) of a state is a Constitutional post and authority duly appointed as per Article 165 of the Constitution of India. He is the principal law officer of a state who advises the government on legal matters, defends and protects the interest of the state government and gives full legal guidance to the state government in the form of its policy and execution of its decisions. He is assisted by a team of law officers and office staff.
 
The Advocate General of any state of India is offered monthly remuneration in the form of fees for appearance in the high court with a defined upper limit (the appearances could be as frequent as being daily), fees for appearance in Supreme Court on behalf of the state government, as well as perks in the form of house accommodation, conveyance and staff. 
 
In most of states, the monthly remuneration of an AG is not more than Rs1 lakh per month, excluding the perks. There is no hard and fast rule for fixing the monthly fees/remuneration of an AG though as Article 165 of the Constitution of India states that, “The Advocate-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the governor, and shall receive such remuneration as the governor may determine.”
 
However, in the case of Goa, which happens to be the smallest state of the country, the AG seems to be overtly pampered, at the cost of the public exchequer. Advocate Aires Rogrigues, a Goa based lawyer and RTI (Right to Information) activist, procured documents through RTI pertaining to the fee hike sanctioned by chief minister Manohar Parrikar and implemented through a government order last month. Documents reveal that the AG of Goa is perhaps the highest paid public servant of the country.
 
Now, Atmaram Nadkarni who is presently the AG of Goa has been awarded Rs10,000 per appearance before the high court as professional fees with the upper limit of Rs8 lakh per month (it was Rs5 lakh per month earlier). He gets paid Rs75,000 as fees for every appearance before the Supreme Court (earlier it was Rs25,000 per month) as well as Rs75,000 for every official visit to New Delhi for conferences, special leave petitions; writ petitions and civil applications. He also gest fully furnished rent free government accommodation or Rs20,000 per month for it and staff on par with the rank of a Cabinet minister. This is with retrospective effect from 1 April 2012.
 
Strangely, the documents also reveal that chief minister Manohar Parrikar by a note moved on 30th July last year directed that henceforth no senior counsel be engaged by the government in any matter whatsoever before the Supreme Court or Green tribunal. The chief minister further directed that the Advocate General would represent the state government in all matters before the Supreme Court. 
 
States Rodrigues, “the Advocate General is supposed to represent cases only regarding constitutional matters but Nadkarni has been given the sole authority to appear for any matter before Supreme Court or Green Tribunal, obviously to help him fatten his fees.”
 
Nadkarni, who is allegedly also a legal expert for some controversial mining companies has been blessed by this meteoric increment in remuneration through personal interest shown by chief minister Parrikar, who is otherwise praised for good governance in the state. In a file noting dated 31 Dec 2012, Parrikar overrules the state law department’s stay (which directed that the fee structure should be upto only Rs5 lakh per month which is incidentally very high in comparision of other states). Parrikar’s file noting states thus: “there appears to be some errors in the cabinet approved, based on the directions that were issued may be due to communication gap. In view of the same following corrections may be incorporated:

1. Maximum limit to fees be increased to Rs8.00 lakh in place of Rs5.00 lakh which were decided three to four years back
 
2. We may include per official visit to New Delhi for ‘conferences’ in addition to ‘per appearance per day’
 
3. We may replace the staff pattern by ‘as applicable to the cabinet minister’
 
With above correction modified, draft may be put up to Cabinet for approval.
 
Manohar Parrikar, 31.12.12.”
 
As per the chief minister’s direction, the revised fees were placed once again before the Cabinet on 27th February this year which approved the hike to a maximum of a monthly Rs8 lakh for appearances before the high court and in addition Rs75,000 for every visit to Delhi for conferences or appearance before the Supreme Court.
 

States Adv Rodrigues, “Goa despite being the smallest state is not only hosting India's highest paid Advocate General but the country’s highest paid public servant.  The president of India is paid Rs1.50 lakh a month while the Chief Justice of India Rs1 lakh. A Supreme Court judge earns Rs90, 000 and a high court judge takes home Rs80,000 a month. The Attorney General of India is paid equivalent to the salary of a Supreme Court judge which is Rs90,000. However, the Advocate General of Goa Atmaram Nadkarni out beats them all, while he gets paid upto a whopping Rs8 lakh a month. Besides this he also pockets Rs75,000 for every official visit to New Delhi.”
 
Ever since Nadkarni has taken over as AG on 8 March 2012, he has appeared in the High Court on an average of 3-5 hearing per day, even more, as he appears and gets paid Rs10,000 even for an adjournment. The earlier AGs were paid appearance fees in the High Court on an “effective hearing”. Also, their fee of Rs25,000 per appearance in the Supreme Court was included in the Rs5 lakh maximum remuneration paid per month.
 
Rodrigues has demanded a CAG scrutiny. He says, “This gross anomaly defies all logic and is a fit case to be examined by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Public funds cannot be allowed to be squandered in this high-handed manner.’’
 
The controversy over Goa AG’s monthly remuneration is not new. Rodrigues had similarly procured documents under RTI of the earlier AG, Subodh Kantak who had been paid Rs5.13 crore for the period from 14 February 2005 to May 2011.’’
 
Rodrigues is campaigning for bringing down the monthly earnings of Goa’s AG on par with other States. 
 
Appointment of Advocate General:
As per Article 165, (1) The Governor of each State shall appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed a Judge of a High Court to be Advocate-General for the State; (2) It shall be the duty of the Advocate-General to give advice to the Government of the State upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred or assigned to him by the Governor, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other law for the time being in force. (3) The Advocate-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor, and shall receive such remuneration as the Governor may determine.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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