Letter Petition to CJI Seeks Creation of an Emergency Fund to Support Lawyers

Bar Association issues notice to Advocates over working at “Boycotted” courts

A 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.

Prior Facts:

The total number of positive Covid-19 cases in India escalated to reach an alarming figure of 5194 on Wednesday morning, while the number of those dead from the virus reached 149, as the nation entered the third week of the 21-day lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. The number of recovered patients stands at 401.

Due to the lockdown, all the courts in India have been shut down due to which some of the lawyers who are in the initial stage of their practices have been adversely affected. Taking all the matter and problems into consideration, a letter has been sent to the CJI for the relief.

Key Features:

1. The letter 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.

2. The letter-petition sent by Advocates Pawan Prakash Pathak and Alok Singh states that “Covid-19 is an extraordinary situation which mankind has ever witnessed, moreover the rapid spread of the virus poses unprecedented challenges throughout the world”.

3. It stated that “Rating agencies, both global and domestic, are unanimous that the Covid-19 pandemic will be an economic tsunami for India and currently amid a 21-day lockdown which will possibly extend further as well”.

4. It added that “Young Independent Advocates who are practising in different Courts & Tribunals across India whose source of income is only limited till the extent of litigation are facing a tough time”.

5. It was also stated in the letter that, “situation is getting worse day by day and we have limited supplies in hand with the additional burden of paying for our Rented Accommodation, Food & Medical bills”.

6. It was submitted that the “petition is not advocating for the ‘financial aid’ as our ‘fundamental right’ during the current pandemic. Through the instant letter Advocates are only sharing the plight of Young Independent Advocates who are facing the wrath of time”.

7. Various State Bar Associations across the country are coming up with the ‘Financial Aid’ scheme for Advocates, however, there is no uniformity or equality in those policies.

8. The objective of the letter is not to discourage the efforts of the respective State Bar Associations and their intention to fight the crisis of COVID-19.

9. It was submitted that the instant letter only tries 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.

10. The petition also gave the following suggestions:-

  • A dedicated single emergency pool fund may be created with the help of Bar & Bench.
  • 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.
  • Rules can be laid down by Bar Members as to who is eligible for Financial Assistance in the Covid-19 situation.

11. The Petition also mentioned that “funds can be pooled by State Bar Associations, Law Firms in India and Advocates willing to contribute. Monthly or one-time assistance can be provided to the Advocates in need of aid during Covid-19”.

Reference:

  • Letter addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court of India, Tilak Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi-110001; The Bar Council of India Through President, 21, Rouse avenue, Mandi House, New Delhi-110001; The President of the SCBA, (Supreme Court Bar Association) Supreme Court of India, New Delhi-110001; The President of DHCBA (Delhi High court Bar Association) Delhi High Court New Delhi-110001 dated April 07, 2020, by Pawan Prakash Pathak, (Advocate), Public Interest Lawyer, Enrol. No- D/6911/2017, Mobile No. – 8600545332; Alok Singh, (Advocate), Supreme Court of India, Enrol.no. – MP-490/2017, Mobile No.-980683319.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.