Belagavi Row: Karnataka government pays Rs. 59.90 lakh legal fees a day

Belagavi Border Dispute: Karnataka government pays Rs. 59.90 lakhs per day as legal fees

A few days ago, we reported how the Karnataka government had paid 88 lakhs to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj to argue the hijab case in the Supreme Court. In yet another case, we have learnt that the state government has paid Rs. 59.90 lakhs per day to a team of lawyers, including former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi, for representing the government in the Belagavi case, reports G. Mahantesh.
First Published: Jan 23,2023 07:07PM
by G Mahantesh

Last Updated on January 23, 2023

The Karnataka government has set a professional fee of Rs. 59.90 lakhs per day for a team of legal experts, including former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi, to represent the state in the Supreme Court in the Belagavi border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The matter came to light when we accessed an order issued by the Law Department of Karnataka, which enumerated remuneration details to the legal experts’ team. The letter reveals that the government had appointed a legal team to represent the state before the apex court to argue the Belagavi case.

In the Government Order (GO) dated January 18, the government fixed the Terms and Conditions and professional fees to the legal team to represent the state against the state of Maharashtra.

The order issued by the Law Department of Karnataka | Document courtesy: G. Mahantesh | The File

The order notes that an amount of 22 lakh rupees would be paid per day for Mukul Rohatgi’s appearance before the Supreme Court, and an additional 5.5 lakh rupees per day would be paid for the preparation of the case, including conferences and other works. It has been learned that a total of 27.50 lakh rupees would be paid to Rohatgi per day to fight the case in the Supreme Court.

The order also mentions that Senior Advocate Shyam Divan would be paid 6 lakh rupees per hearing and 1.5 lakh rupees for the preparation of the case, including conference and other works. Divan would be offered an additional 10 lakh rupees per day for outstation visits and other related expenses. Overall Divan’s remuneration sums up to a total of 17.50 lakh rupees per day.

The Advocate General of Karnataka will be remunerated at the rate of 3 lakh rupees per day for an appearance before the Supreme Court and 1.25 lakh rupees per day for case preparation and other related works. The AG would also be given an additional 2 lakh rupees per day for outstation visits bringing the total sum to about 6.25 lakh rupees per day.

The order issued by the Law Department of Karnataka | Document courtesy: G. Mahantesh | The File

Senior Advocate Udaya Holla would be given a sum of 2 lakh rupees per day for appearance and 75000 rupees per day for case preparation and other related matters. He will also receive 1.5 lakh rupees per day for the settlement of pleadings and other matters and an additional 1.5 lakh rupees for outstation visits. In total, Holla would receive a remuneration of about 5.75 lakh rupees per day. The order available with us also mentions a host of other expenses bringing the total sum to about 59.90 lakh rupees per day.

This is not the first time the Karnataka government has been in the news for paying exorbitant legal fees with public funds. A few days back we reported how the Solicitor General and Additional Solicitor General of India were paid a fee of Rs. 88 lakhs by the Karnataka government to fight the Hijab case before the Supreme Court. The remuneration had raised eyebrows as, in the past, the state’s education department had stated that it does not have enough funds for the distribution of scholarships, free bicycles, shoes and socks to school students.

What is the Belagavi border dispute?

The Belagavi border dispute is a border row between Maharashtra and Karnataka over towns and villages situated along the border. Since the formation of Karnataka, Maharashtra has laid claim to over 800 villages in the border areas. Maharashtra government has contended that even the revenue records in the Marathi speaking regions have also been maintained in Marathi.

On the other hand, the Karnataka government has argued that the matter was resolved long ago and the settlement of boundaries as per the States Reorganisation Act is final. In 2004, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court challenging the States Reorganisation Act and demanding that over 800 villages and towns from five Karnataka districts be merged with the state. Since then the two states have been battling each other in the Supreme Court over the ownership of the areas.

This story was first published in Kannada by The File. To read the Kannada version of the original story, pls click

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