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Supreme Court asks Punjab Govt to pay back Forest Fund spend for Paying Lawyers' Fee

Team SoOLEGAL 8 Oct 2018 2:30pm

Supreme Court asks Punjab Govt to pay back Forest Fund spend for Paying Lawyers' Fee

Supreme Court has ordered the Punjab forest and wildlife department to reimburse Rs 1.11 crore, which was drawn out of the compensatory afforestation (CAMPA) fund for paying senior advocates, as reported in News18.

A two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur gave the Punjab government two weeks time for paying back the compensatory afforestation (CAMPA) fund – with the money wrongly withdrawn.

CAMPA funds are not meant for payment of fees to lawyers. The State of Punjab is directed in terms of the order passed by the MoEF to reimburse the CAMPA funds to the extent of Rs.1,11,01,420/- within two weeks from today,” the SC bench observed.

The court’s order came on an inquiry report produced before it by the Additional Solicitor General (AGS) ANS Nadkarni, following an apex court order in August.

The report established that CAMPA funds were used by the Punjab government towards litigation expenditure.

The SC Bench then reiterated that the money meant for afforestation will not be used by states for different purposes.

It is made clear that no State Government can use the funds for any activity other than afforestation,” the bench directed.

Case Background:

Earlier on August 20, the Supreme Court had said that it was ‘surprised’ over media reports that money meant for afforestation was used by the Punjab government to pay hefty fees to senior lawyers – who were contesting cases against state in a matter relating to deforestation before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the top court.

ASG Nadkarni had, back then, said that the Centre will conduct an audit into the matter.

The CAMPA funds were created under the orders of the Supreme Court on an environment-related matter, which was to be used for afforestation.

An amount of over Rs 60,000 crore lies unspent in the CAMPA funds and the top court has urged the Centre to set up appropriate rules expeditiously for utilisation of this money for environmental purposes.

Tagged: Punjab Forest and Wildlife Department   Punjab   Compensatory Afforestation   CAMPA Funds   CAMPA   Justice Madan B Lokur   Punjab Government   Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni   ASG  
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