Bombay HC clerk transfers lawyers' fees into own account, arrested
Matter comes to fore after advocates complain of not receiving their fees, which have been sanctioned by the law and justice department
The Mumbai Police have arrested a 40-year-old High Court (HC) clerk for siphoning off the fees of government advocates over the past one year. The clerk, identified as Sameer Topale, is currently posted with the writ cell.
According to sources, the incident came to light after several advocates complained to Nirmala Shrirame, superintendent at the office of the Associate Attorney General, who also holds additional charge of the writ cell, that though their fees had been sanctioned by the treasury department, they were yet to receive the money in their bank accounts.
Topale works as a clerk in the establishment branch of the writ cell, along with Ganesh Kande, Pratibha Tavde and Nagesh Yadav. Superintendent Digambar Jambhule and senior clerk Sanjay Ghumak heads them. Their main responsibility is to handle the salaries of staff members, fees of government advocates and other official expenditures.
After getting the fees of the advocates cleared from the law and justice department of the Mantralaya, Jambhale would complete all the other formalities with the help of the clerks. Thereafter, he would send the documents to the accounts and treasury department through one of the peons, who would then return with the pay slips. Thereafter, Topale would make two copies of each slip and take them to the Bank of India branch at Fort after getting Shrirame's signature on them. After submitting one copy to the bank, he would return with the other one. Thereafter, on the following day, the bank would transfer the money in the accounts of the advocates.
When Shrirame started getting complaints from advocates that they were not receiving their fees, he asked the officials concerned to speed up the process and check the pending records. She had even instructed them to make a list of the advocates whose payments were pending. However, even after repeated reminders, the authorities failed to provide her the details.
On January 5, when she went to the writ cell, ex-assistant government advocate Aparna Vhatkar told her that though the treasury department had approved her last month's fees, she was yet to receive it. Thereafter, she met the bank manager, who showed her the money deposit slips of the advocates. That is when she came across a slip in which Topale's name was mentioned instead of Vhatkar's. On checking his last year's bank details, Shrirame found that Topale had transferred Rs 2 to 2.25 lakh belonging to government advocates on several occasions.
Speaking to mid-day, a police officer said, "After Shrirame filed a complaint, we registered a case against Topale under sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 470, 471, 120(B) and 34 of IPC. He was produced before the court on Sunday and sent to police custody. We are trying to find out whether more people are involved in the case or not."
Rs 2-2.5 lakh
Total amount Topale has transferred to his own account over the past one year
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