The war of words over who would foot senior advocate Ram Jethmalani’s legal fee in the defamation case against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has seen the BJP come down heavily on the AAP chief, accusing him of using taxpayers money to fight his personal battles. Coming to Kejriwal’s defence, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said it was the government which is fighting corruption in the Delhi & District Cricket Association. “It is these people against whom inquiry was ordered who went to court and we are fighting a case against them in court. So why would a personal lawyer be hired to fight corruption in cricket. The Delhi government would fight and it did,” said Sisodia.
Kejriwal also said that it was for the people of Delhi to decide on who should be clearing Jethmalani’s bill. “DDCA was in grip of corruption. Students had come to me regarding corruption in the selection process. The BJP sued me. Why would I pay Jethmalani from my own pocket. People should say whether the government should pay or if Kejriwal should,” he said.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar termed the government’s move as “dacoity and loot” of taxpayers’ money. “It’s illegal and immoral. Why should the people of Delhi pay for your (Kejriwal’s) sins? This is a dacoity and loot of their money and is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Jethmalani, however, claimed he would waive off Kejriwal’s legal fee and fight the case pro bono if he is unable to arrange the money. “The client (Kejriwal) said that I want to pay the fee and didn’t ask for any free services. If he wants to pay, I don’t inquire from him how you are getting this money. If he can’t pay, I will do it free for him. If the government doesn’t pay, if Kejriwal can’t arrange from somewhere else, I will do it for free,” he said.
Until the time Lt Governor Anil Baijal, who sought legal opinion in the case, takes a decision on the issue, we take a look at how Jethmalani’s fee (RS 4 crore approx) can be spent by the Delhi government.
Jethmalani’s office had reportedly sought Rs 1 crore retainer fee and Rs 22 lakh per court appearance. This money can be used to pay pension money for 20,000 people (Rs 2,000 per month) who are above the age of 60 and 16,000 people (Rs 2,500) who belong to the SC/ST community. The same can be used to pay disability benefits for around 2,666 people.
Last December, the Delhi government decided to hike the salaries of around 17,000 guest teachers by 90 per cent for those who cleared the Central Teacher Eligibility Test. And by 44 per cent for those who did not clear CTET. The Rs 4 crore legal bill if broken down into monthly salaries of teachers would see 1,204 Assistant primary teachers (CTET) getting paid Rs 33,200 and 1,207 trained graduate teachers (TGTs) will get Rs 33,120. Similarly, 1,173 PGTs will receive a salary of Rs 34,100 every month. And 1,600 Assistant teachers, who are non-CTET, will get Rs 25,000 and 1,509 TGTs (non-CTET) will get Rs 26,500.
If one were to use the money to hire DTC buses for schools in Delhi then it would have resulted in 20,000 (Rs 2,000 per day) standard floor buses, around 13,333 (Rs 3000 per day) low floor non-ac buses and 5,000 (Rs 8,000 per day) low floor AC buses.