RTI EXPOSES LEGAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CAUVERY WATER DISPUTE
An application filed by an activist under the Right To Information (RTI) Act has exposed may vital information regarding the Cauvery Water Dispute.
The Founder-President of Puraskara Forum, Krishna Joshi, had asked the Chief Secretary of the State to furnish him all the details regarding the delegations sent to represent the State; the lawyers’ fees and the total expenditure incurred by the State Government since the formation of the Cauvery Tribunal.
Later a complaint was lodged with the Information Commission on Apr. 12 as the officers had failed to furnish the information within the deadline to Joshi.
In this background, an enquiry was held on June 21 and the Commission has expressed its displeasure as incomplete information was furnished by the Department of Water Resources. It has called for a final enquiry on Sept. 27.
Lawyers’ fee :-
Out of the many questions raised by Krishna Joshi, the junior officers of the Department of Water Resources, on behalf of the Chief Secretary, have given answers for only two questions. Out of these two, one remains to be incomplete.
As per the information furnished by these officers, in the period since 1990-91 to 28.2.2007, the 10 Advocate Generals, who appeared be fore the Tribunal, claimed Rs. 1.34 crore as fees.
During the same period, fees for the 18 lawyers who appeared for the State is Rs. 22.10 crore.
Out of the 18 lawyers, advocate Anil B. Dewan was paid the highest fee of Rs. 9.66 crore and the lowest in the list was Advocate Ashok Mathur, who was paid Rs. 3,000 only.
The fee for the famous advocate Fali S. Nariman, who argued for the State since the beginning, was paid Rs. 2.08 crore.
Similarly the advocates, who represented the State since the formation of the Tribunal, S.S. Javali and Mohan V. Katharki, are paid Rs. 3.77 crore and Rs. 2.75 crore respectively.
The lawyers’ fee paid by the State Government during 2005-06 is Rs. 5.19 crore and this is the highest payment made in a single financial year.
Visits to Bangalore :-
The number of visits made by the advocates to Bangalore to hold discussions are also available. The details are as follows:
Mohan V. Katharki has visited Bangalore 193 times, S.S. Javali 158 times, Shambhuprasad Singh 138 times, Anil B. Dewan 46 times, Sayyed Naqvi 26 times, Fali S. Nariman 19 times, Brijesh Kalappa 18 times, Ranvir Singh 14 times and Sanjay R. Heggade 7 times.
“The expenditure incurred on lawyers is startling. In spite of this huge expenditure, I feel the Government has utterly failed in presenting its arguments effectively. My concern is that all the details regarding the dispute be made available to the public,” says Krishna Joshi. “I will continue to fight till all the information is available,” he declared.
Having won his case to make the entire proceedings of the Information Commission to be conducted in Kannada, he insists that the Cauvery Tribunal should publish its verdict in Kannada and there should be clarity in the details.