On Thursday the Delhi HC issued a notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to include ‘Advocates’ under the definition of ‘professionals’ in order to access the welfare schemes of the Government of India under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Act (MSME), 2006. [Abhijit Mishra vs Union of India]
A Division Bench composed of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh of the Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Reserve Bank of India, Ministry of Finance, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry (MSME) Ministry, and Bar Council of India.
Advocate Abhijit Mishra- the petitioner, who appeared in person, stated that at present the MSME does not consider ‘the profession of advocates’ under the definition of ‘professionals’ when it comes to accessing welfare schemes and benefits under the MSME Act, 2006.
He also pointed out that the eligibility requirements of GSTN, Business Pan and TAN are mandatory requirements for accessing the development programs under the Act and said that these are against the welfare of advocates.
In addition, it was submitted that no schemes were passed by the Indian government for the benefit of advocates, highlighting the lack of provisions for purchasing equipment such as laptops, printers, etc. for accessing virtual courts.
Mishra’s petition requested that directions should be issued to the Department of Financial Services to work in partnership with the Bar Council of India for the formulation of banking products and schemes to benefit the lawyers.
It also sought directions which are to be issued to the RBI for further issuing guidelines, notifications and instructions to banks to provide the advocates collateral-free loans under Section 20 of the MSME Act, 2006.
The plea also prayed for the introduction of digital training / online training programs for the lawyers.
The plea challenged the current criteria to access the welfare schemes under the MSME Act, 2006 and said that these criteria are extremely restrictive and biased towards the advocates.
The case will be heard again on October 12.