10 May 2023 1:23 PM GMT
Supreme Court judge BR Gavai on Wednesday revealed that the top court would soon ‘take a call’ on compensating K Parameshwar, advocate and amicus curiae in the omnibus forest protection matter (TN Godavarman) in terms of the payment received by empanelled counsel of the Union of India. “I just noticed, My Lords,” began senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, as he stepped up...
Supreme Court judge BR Gavai on Wednesday revealed that the top court would soon ‘take a call’ on compensating K Parameshwar, advocate and amicus curiae in the omnibus forest protection matter (TN Godavarman) in terms of the payment received by empanelled counsel of the Union of India.
“I just noticed, My Lords,” began senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, as he stepped up to the podium. “My learned friend was appearing as amicus. On his gown there was no pouch behind,” he said, talking about Parameshwar, who had just concluded his submissions. The ‘pouch’ Ahmadi referred to has its origins in an apocryphal story about barristers – who did not receive explicit payment for their advocacy – being discreetly slipped their fees. The myth of the barrister’s ‘purse’ is that the fold in the back of the gown was originally a pocket into which the client could drop the legal fees while the barrister’s back was turned, since they were only supposed to receive an honorarium for their service.
Ahmadi’s remark elicited laughter from the bench. “Amici are always in penury,” replied Justice Sanjay Karol in a lighter vein. Justice Gavai recalled an observation by his usual colleague on the bench – Justice Vikram Nath – about the need for a mechanism to compensate the amicus curiae in the Godavarman matter for the time and effort expended in assisting the court. “We’ll take a call on that,” he said, before adding that he was grateful to the senior counsel for reminding the bench.
“My learned friend invests a lot of time,” the senior counsel said, appreciatively. The bench agreed. In jest, Justice Gavai added, “You would not like CAMPA fund to be used to pay his fees.” In the country, funds disbursed by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are utilised for compensating the loss of forest land and ecosystem services by raising of compensatory afforestation, improving quality of forests through assisted natural regeneration, enrichment of biodiversity, improvement of wildlife habitat, and a host of other activities.
“What was suggested by Justice Nath was that the amicus curiae should be paid as much as the union government’s empanelled counsel,” Justice Gavai further said, “We will consider this after July. Maybe the union government could be issued directions.”
“I meant it in jest also because I noticed that the back of his gown had no pouch at all,” confessed Ahmadi, before beginning his submissions in the matter in which he was appearing.
According to the Handbook on Practice and Procedure and Office Procedure published by the Supreme Court of India in 2017, an advocate appointed as the amicus curiae would be entitled to receive Rs. 6,000/- at the admission hearing stage and Rs. 10,000/- at the final disposal stage or at the regular hearing stage, as fixed by the Chief Justice, or as may be ordered by the Court.
In Re: T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995