There is more money than water flowing here


By Devil’s Advocate

There has been a serious concern raised about the manner in which “top notch” advocates bill their clients. Right from accommodation, breakfast, travel and in many a case, laundry charges are being passed on to the client.

Take for instance the Cauvery water’s dispute which unfortunately did not go the way Karnataka wanted it to. The bills produced by the team of advocates headed by senior counsel Fali S Nariman are quite shameful and raises a very important question. “Was it worth it?” had put up an interesting piece on the amount charged by the advocates for the fighting the Cauvery Water’s dispute. Published below is the article.

Between 1990-91 and 2007, the State spent a grand total of Rs 22.10 crore on the 18 lawyers who represented it at the apex court. That’s roughly Rs 1.22 crore per black coat.

Documents procured by a Dharwad citizen, Krishna Joshi, using the provisions of the Right to Information, the story shows that, on the other hand, the State spent Rs 1.34 crore on the 10 advocates-general in the same 16-year period.

Anil B. Divan took home the lion’s share of the Rs 22 crore, with Rs 9.66 crore, followed by S.S. Javali (Rs 3.77 crore) and Mohan V. Kataraki (Rs 2.75 crore). Fali S. Nariman who has represented the State from very nearly the beginning of the dispute took Rs 2.08 crore.

The most inexpensive lawyer was Ashok Mathur whose services cost the State Rs 3,000.

The highest expense incurred by the State in the 16-year saga was in 2005-06 when it filed a review petition before the Cauvery Tribunal. The lawyers’ fees in that financial year was a grand total of Rs 5.19 crore.

Kataraki visited Bangalore 193 times to discuss the case with state officials, Javali 158 times, Shambhu Prasad Singh 138 times, Divan 46 times, Syed Naqvi 26 times, Nariman 19 times, Brijesh Kalappa 18 times and Ranveer Singh 14 times.

Let us not blame the lawyers alone for this. When someone is ready to pay, why not ask? Is it not the duty of the state government to strike a balance somewhere when it comes to making payments? Mr. Nariman may be the best in the business, but is he irreplaceable? The need of the hour was dedication and a larger team of advocates from Karnataka who could understand the seriousness of the issue and fight the case with a great amount of passion.

In a legal battle one has to win and one has to lose. The question is whether such a payment was justified?

As was pointed out some of these lawyers have made numerous trips to Bangalore. At Bangalore the lawyers were put up at the Windsor Manor and all the conferences with various officials were held at the very same hotel.

So the irony here is that the Rs. 22.10 crore mentioned is just the lawyers’ fee. If one takes into account all the other expenditure involved, the expenses incurred is a shocking Rs 34 crore. This would include charges incurred for conferences at both New Delhi and Bangalore. The trips made by the officials and also the Advocate General would also form part of this madness.

Now for the real shocker. The expenditure in the Cauvery Water’s dispute has not ended. After the verdict of the tribunal, another series of conferences were held both in Delhi and Bangalore. The last conference held in Bangalore in the month of May 2007 lasted 6 days at Windsor Manor. And guess what the conclusion was at the end of the conference. “To oppose Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court and ask for a larger share of water.” Like none of us knew that this is what was supposed to be done.

Guess it is time to ponder over this issue and law brought in to curb lawyers from charging such unimaginable amounts. Now is this possible considering the fact that 99 per cent of the judges were lawyers prior to their elevation.


53 Responses to There is more money than water flowing here

  1. Karat says:

    shocking facts. I feel that the state is to blame. Can’t they bargain a bit.

  2. joseph says:

    It is indeed a shame that lawyers charge such a shameful sum of money. It is true that when people are ready to pay, people are ready to ask. Is there some manner in which the Bar Council can intervene into this matter. I think its time the Bar Council raised this issue

  3. shammi says:

    River disputes are a matter of life and death. There is an immediate requirement of finding advocates with more passion for the job than for money. Why werent there more lawyers from Karnataka? What love will these so called legal luminaries who are from out of the state have for an issue which can make or break the state?

  4. kiran says:

    Very interesting issue and needs a nation wide debate. On one hand we talk about bringing down the cost of litigation and on the other nothing is done about the manner in which these lawyers continue to charge/ What was the need in laundering so much of money

  5. hilal says:

    The lawyers demanded and the state paid. Thats about it. Blame the government and not the lawyer

  6. azim says:

    What did we achieve at the end of this litigation? Nothing. It does not seem as though our problems were solved. Through out the litigation false assurances were given. It was a known fact that Karnataka had a weaker case since day one. When this being the case, why didnt the lawyers do anything to project the case better. The result was expected. The entire state has been taken for a ride

  7. ratan says:

    Let me share an inside story. Nariman is God for Deve Gowda. All legal aspects prior to Kumaraswamy taking charge were discussed by Nariman and Gowda. And Anil Divan is Nariman’s blue eyed boy. Now see the nexus. And the unfortunate part is that it is now too late to change the team of lawyers

  8. nagraj says:

    What a shame. worse the battle is not over as yet. The conference at Windsor Manor is the most shocking. Why throw money? We need a more sincere team

  9. oomen says:

    A provision for people to complain against such spending should be included in the bar council rules. I guess Nariman and his team should be pulled up for disciplinary action

  10. uday says:

    The state government should come out in the open and reveal how much exactly it spent on this dispute. The amount the state has spent is much more than what has been claimed

  11. narendra says:

    What a sham. The government and its team of lawyers have been taking us all for a ride

  12. babu says:

    How much was demanded, how much was paid. All these details need to come out in the open

  13. hegde says:

    why have they made so many trips? and who on earth is Katarki or Kalappa? did they deserve so much? What is their role

  14. gandhi says:

    what a waste. Advocates make merry while states fight

  15. dino says:

    Don’t these lawyers have a conscience?

  16. james says:

    Is there a bar in any lawyer charging huge sums of money. In my view there is not. Then why all the fuss

  17. virat says:

    Hey James were you also part of the team

  18. sunny says:

    I guess James has a point. When there is no bar then why not? The government should have thought about this. Now why is the government keeping quiet. If they are right why cant they justify their stand

  19. killer says:

    I suggest that a poll be conducted on who is to blame? State or the lawyers

  20. Sinha says:

    well there is no point in saying that only a lawyer from Karnataka could have been more sensitive in this matter. A good advocate will do his job anyway. Karnataka did not have a case since day one. The verdict was not all that bad. It could have been worse if Mr Nariman was not around. So stop criticising him

  21. sid says:

    Hey Mr Sinha. Don’t take it personally. I agree with your views on Nariman, but what about Divan and his men. Did they deserve so much

  22. Erappa says:

    This is day light robbery. Recovery proceedings ought to be initiated

  23. gagan says:

    well Erappa i completely agree with you. But sadly there is no such provision

  24. chicko says:

    This is so sad. I guess this money could have been used to waive of some of the farmers loans. The government would have atleast had the blessings of some

  25. sandeep says:

    well said chicko

  26. Naane Belaku says:

    The team of advocates have cheated the government. Something ought to be done

  27. Amar says:

    Bar Council can you do something other than judge bashing. Look at what your own men are upto

  28. big cat says:

    The Bar has to speak.

  29. crazy guy says:

    There are so many poor advocates in this country. The top lawyers should contribute half the amount towards the advocates welfare fund

  30. Farid says:

    I remember the fuss the government made to hand over some money for the poor advocates. But in this case, crores have been washed away

  31. good boy bad boy says:

    Truly there is more money than water flowing here

  32. John Doe says:

    What a sad state of affairs. All we can do is shake our heads in dismay. Nothing else.

  33. Manjunath says:

    Recover the amount from them. Thats all can be done

  34. badri says:

    Come on guys. Spare a thought for these lawyers. They have done their best. Let us see what happens at the Supreme Court

  35. man machine says:

    The government is not revealing everything. I am sure there is more to it

  36. zulu says:

    If the government claims that it is so true, then let it come out in the open and announce how it intends spending on litigation in the supreme court

  37. Irvin says:

    Yes Zulu I share the same view. Should be more money spent at the Supreme court. It is a bigger court right

  38. danny says:

    I feel for the amount that has been charged, these lawyers should argue the case for free in the Supreme Court

  39. hangman says:

    This is just an example of lawyers taking their clients for a ride. If these lawyers could con the state, then one could imagine what will happen to the individual clients

  40. Legal Eagle says:

    Was it worth it after all?

  41. Lord Hutton says:

    Its a pity that so much money has been wasted. It is sad the direction in which the legal profession is going

  42. Vaish says:

    The profession is becoming more and more commercial. This is a dangerous sign

  43. We shall have a poll on this issue

  44. vik says:

    that much money could probably have bought us the same amount of water back from TN. Its time to think about alternatives to such wasted and protracted litigation where no one but lawyers stand to benefit. of course, rest assured that no lawyer will come with any bright ideas on that count. why should they?

  45. Vrksha says:

    This is very sad indeed…when the state govt is paying, then lawyers utilise this chance to grab. State has to be blamed in this issue. they cud have opted lawyers frm our own state. or else they cud have spent the whole money on the opposite lawyers atleast in order to get the verdict in favour of us. maatha Cauvery shd help us.

  46. lol says:

    something needs to be done about these lawyers. The charges are maddening.

  47. gol123 says:

    interesting article. However i still cant digest that lawyers could charge like this

  48. usma says:

    The bar council of india has to take note of this matter. Or else every lawyer will start charging like this

  49. poppy says:

    some audacity this. The lawyers have asked and the state blindly paid

  50. itnal says:

    I feel ashamed to call myself a lawyer. There should be some meaning in billing. You cannot ask for what ever comes to your mind

  51. dinga says:

    As someone had pointed out, the need of the hour is recovery proceedings

  52. Rinki says:

    There are many clients coughing up higher amounts for their cases which is not made public. Am sure this has become a way of life for the advocates to make their clients pay for not only their laundry(expenses)but also of their familes.Easy way of life!!I wonder; if everything is taken care of by the clients , what actually happens to the money they demand? It cannot be called hard earned if they cant even win the case for their clients…This cannot be a one off case, so what steps have been taken to stop the advocates from fleecing people? This is a good subject to debate on but what will be the outcome?

  53. Goldbuddings says:

    Asok Mathur needs a Bharat Ratna. All the others need a kick on the butt. I say replace.

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