Law Ministry has no details of Moily's travel expenses



New Delhi: The Law Ministry has claimed it has no information about Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily's travel outside Delhi and the expenses incurred on them.

"No information is available with this branch secretariat on the travel of the Law Minister and the purpose of the travel and the total cost incurred during the travel and stay," the ministry said in its reply to a RTI application.

"No information is available with this branch secretariat about the list of assets and the bank balances of Moily," it said.

According to the ministry's Chief Public Information Officer B K Bhargava, the country's top law officers -- Attorney General of India (AG), Solicitor General (SG) and other government law officers -- are entitled to only actual expenses incurred on travelling, boarding and lodging during their official visits.

He said there was no provision for travel by the executive class or stay in the five-star accommodation of the AG, SG and Additional Solicitor Generals (ASGs).

"As per the Ministry of Law and Justice... Gazettee Notification of July 18, 2008... where a law officer is required to perform journeys outside the headquarters in the course of his duties, he shall be paid or reimbursed the actual expenses incurred on travelling and on boarding and lodging," the ministry said.

The ministry further said there was no special criterion for selection to the post of top law officers but a bachelors degree in law was a must and only advocates of eminence are being appointed.

Delhi-based Rajeev Agarwal, who filed the application, had also sought information from the government on details of the functioning of AG, SG, ASG and other standing counsel and their perks and entitlements.

Noting that the fee payable to AG, SG and ASGs was governed by terms and conditions issued by the ministry, Bhargava said it had no information on payments made to AG, SG or other ASG by the ministries or any public undertakings with respect to opinions, appearances and settling of affidavits and conferences between June and September 15.

"The office has no information on payments to AG and SG. However, payments to ASG are payable by the litigant department," Bhargava said, adding information about this had been notified on January 1, 1987, and July 18, 2008, in the official gazette.

Bureau Report