The latest controversy about the AAP govt making the Delhi taxpayers pay Kejriwal’s legal fees doesn’t seem to be waning.
To recount, Arun Jaitley had filed a defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal, which had prompted him to seek the legal services of noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who ended up billing him about 3.6 crores after initial media reports suggested he was fighting the case for free. This prompted Kejriwal to find a way to pay Jethmalani from the public exchequer for a case, which he was arguably fighting in his personal capacity and not as the Delhi CM.
As if all this wasn’t enough, this story has now developed another angle regarding the amount of money billed by Ram Jethmalani. Arvind Kejriwal was to pay him 1 crore as a retainer fee and 22 lakhs rupees as appearance fees for every trial.
Now reports have emerged that suggest that the Delhi Govt will end up paying Jethmalani a staggering 567% higher than what the Punjab Govt is paying the noted lawyer for his services. As reported, the newly formed Punjab Govt led by Capt. Amrinder Singh has also retained Jethmalani to represent the govt in the apex court and various courts outside Chandigarh. But the amount paid is surprisingly lower.
As compared to charging Kejriwal 22 lakh per appearance, the Punjab govt will only be paying Jethmalani 3.3 lakh.
The article attributes such a disparity in fees to poor negotiation by Kejriwal. This raises the questions over financial prudence of the Delhi government; whether they didn’t even bother to negotiate as they were going to make the people pay the amount?
Ram Jetjmalani though has a completely different outlook to the whole affair. Jethmalani has claimed that he didn’t charge Kejriwal more but he had actually given him a discount!
He stated that the 1 crore retainer fees which he has charged Kejriwal is actually lower than what he charges other clients. Plus he claims he hasn’t charged Kejriwal anything for the ‘elaborate’ conferences before a trial. Jetjmalani though would be earning 2.2 lakh for conference and drafting of petitions from the Punjab govt.
So if Ram Jethmalani claims that the rates charged to Kejriwal are actually lower, while he is billing Punjab Govt even less, should one conclude that this is because Kejriwal is being charged in individual capacity and thus Jethmalani is comparing his rates to other non-governmental clients?