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‘Many Lawyers Across The Country Are On Verge Of Starvation’: Letter Petition To CJI Seeks Creation Of An Emergency Fund To Support Them [Read Letter]

first_imgTop Stories’Many Lawyers Across The Country Are On Verge Of Starvation’: Letter Petition To CJI Seeks Creation Of An Emergency Fund To Support Them [Read Letter] Radhika Roy8 April 2020 4:34 AMShare This – xA letter has been addressed to the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, praying for the Supreme Court and Bar Council to take cognizance of the situation wherein independent young advocates are on the verge of starvation due to lack of financial resources. The letter also seeks for the creation of an Emergency Fund as per provisions of Advocates Act, 1961 & Advocates Welfare…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginA letter has been addressed to the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, praying for the Supreme Court and Bar Council to take cognizance of the situation wherein independent young advocates are on the verge of starvation due to lack of financial resources. The letter also seeks for the creation of an Emergency Fund as per provisions of Advocates Act, 1961 & Advocates Welfare Scheme, 1998 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.The letter-petition, sent by Advocates Pawan Prakash Pathak and Alok Singh, states that till date there has been more than 4000 positive cases which have been reported in India, along with an approximate count of 114 deaths. Additionally, due to nearly 162 countries steadily going under lockdown, businesses are operating in fear of an impending collapse of global financial markets. Compounded with the sluggish economic growth in the previous year, rising unemployment, interest rates and fiscal deficit, the economy in India has taken a huge dip; rating agencies have also declared the pandemic will be an economic tsunami for India. Accordingly, on 26th March, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a $23 billion package aimed at cushioning the economic disruption. She was joined by the RBI a day later with sharp interest rate cuts and other unconventional measures to make credit available for beleaguered businesses. The letter-petition goes on to request the Supreme Court “the current health situation should not be viewed as some unique or unexpected exogenous crisis, on the contrary, it is very much endogenous to the protracted structural crisis of capitalism along with huge persistent income inequality, unemployment, inaccessibility to proper health care by the working class, inaccessible quality education and other essential services”. On the basis of the same, the letter-petition asserts that Officers of the Court, i.e. Advocates, have been hit by this lockdown and are facing a financial crunch. “…If the lockdown further extends then this poses a serious threat to the life and liberty of the Advocates who have litigation as their only source of income. It’s time that the protector of fundamental and legal rights takes care of this responsibility as one class (Bar and Bench), rather than waiting for State or Union relief fund as they have to take care of other professions and citizens at large”. The fact that the lockdown due to the pandemic has led to the independent young lawyers facing a tough time has been invoked in the letter-petition as they are confined in Delhi with limited load of work, and that this will be followed by the summer vacation break which will further deteriorate their financial situation. “…the situation is getting worse day by worse day by day and we have limited supplies in hand with additional burden of paying for our Rented Accommodation, Food & Medical bills. It is humbly submitted that we are not advocating for the “financial aid” as our “fundamental right” during the current pandemic. Through the instant letter we are only sharing the plight of Young Independent Advocates who are facing the wrath of time.” The letter-petition also highlights the lack of uniformity or equality in policies of State Bar Associations who have come up with various “Financial Aid” schemes for Advocates. It is stated that there is a grey area in regard to those advocates who are left at the mercy of God due to not being registered with any Associations. It is also stated the policies, in particular of that propagated by the Bar Council of Delhi, has divided advocates in different classes and this classification violates the principle of equality due to lack of intelligible differentia. Similar policy has been recommended by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) as well. “That the objective of the instant letter is not to discourage the efforts of the respective State Bar Associations and their intention to fight the crisis of COVID-19. It is humbly submitted that the instant letter only try to convey the plight of Young Independent Advocates who are not associated with any Court Bar Association and still in dire need of financial help from the State Bar or BCI”. The letter-petition alludes to the welfare schemes available for Advocates at State and National levels and that the Advocates Act, 1961 makes a provision for safeguarding the rights, privileges and interest of Advocates on its roll. Section 6(2) of the Advocates Act also calls for the creation of emergency funds for advocates. As all advocates are registered with a State Bar Council of their choice, unlike the voluntary membership of Bar Associations, therefore they are entitled to financial assistance under welfare schemes which have been promulgated under the Act. “It is humbly submitted that the Advocates Act, 1961 provides with the provision for creation of financial fund for Advocates in order to protect their rights, privileges and interest. Therefore, it is humbly prayed that; kindly invoke that power under the Advocate Act, 1961 and create an Emergency Fund for the Young Independent Advocates in need of financial assistance during COVID 19”. SUGGESTIONS ENUMERATED IN THE LETTER-PETITION “A. A dedicated single emergency pool fund may be created with the help of Bar & Bench. B. Bar Council of India has data of all the State Bar Associations, so the BCI can be the managing body for the pool fund and it’s disbursal to the Concerned Advocates in need of financial assistance. C. Question Arises as to who is eligible for “Financial Assistance during COVID-19 situation? Well, the Rules can be laid down by the Learned Members of the Bar, whereas our suggestion to this would be the Parameters like:- i. Advocates who are enrolled with their respective State Bar and their names appeared on the State Roll. ii. Advocates who are practising Independently and not associated with any law firm or drawing salary/stipend from any law firm, Chambers, or through any other source. iii. Income Tax return as a proof of their declared Income, like in our case the total income is less than Rs 2,50,000.00. iv. Advocates who are practising in their respective states and solely dependent upon the litigation as there source of income. v. Self-Attested Affidavit in regard to need of financial assistance during COVID 19 to manage their essential need of food, Accommodation and Medical bills. How we can pool funds: State Bar Associations may contribute, Law firms in India, Advocates who are willing to contribute towards this fund or any other Institutions. Financial Scheme for Advocates:- Monthly or one time Financial Assistance may be provided to the Advocates who are in need of the aid during COVID 19, OR Assistance in form of Loan disbursal for a certain period of time can be provided to the Advocates who will return the Aid money after a fix period of time, once the court reopens along with the reasonable interest and then the Emergency fund can be distributed among various State Bar Associations or BCI may utilise it for legal aid or any other mankind purpose. OR Senior advocates, well settled advocates or the law firms who have contributed towards this fund, their money can be refunded once the Advocates who have availed the financial assistance return aid money, so this will encourage the Advocates, law firms to divert there surplus fund in this emergency fund where after a period of time there fund will be returned along with interest. (Permission for this particular scheme needs assent of RBI)”. The letter-petition ends on a note of stating that advocacy is a noble profession and that for individuals who fight for the rights of others, the pandemic has created a harsh situation, and this requires the urgent intervention of the Apex Court.Click Here To Download Letter[Read Letter] Next Storylast_img read more