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The Allahabad High Court today issued notice to the Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh, and the Department of Law of Uttar Pradesh Government, seeking an update on the steps taken by them or proposed to be taken by them to assist advocates and the registered advocate clerks who are in need. (In Re - Assistance To The Needy Advocates And Registered Advocate Clerks)
Notice has also been issued to the Allahabad High Court Bar Association, Allahabad High Court Advocate's Association and the Awadh Bar Association.
Notice was issued by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma in a suo moto writ petition concerning the programmes adopted and enforced by the Bar Councils and Bar Associations for the welfare of their members.
The Court noted that the slow down due to the COVID-19 lockdown has adversely affected livelihood of lakhs of people, including those whose survival depended upon working of the judiciary.
It is informed that the Chief Justice and Registry of the Court received several representations as well as digital messages drew attention to the condition of several lawyers and registered advocate clerks who are "at the verge of starvation".
The Court acknolwdged that it did not have any funds to allocate for survival of needy advocates and registered advocate clerks and at the moment, complete functioning of the Court could also not be restored.
It nonetheless noted that under the Advocates Act, 1961 it was the responsibility of the Bar Council of India as well as the State Bar Councils to ensure welfare of Advocates fraternity and also to assist the needy Advocates.
In every Court, the Associations of Advocates are also operational and such court attached Bar Associations are also necessarily required to take care of their members, it added.
The Court further pointed out to provide for the establishment and operation of a fund for promotion and welfare of Advocates in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh State Legislature had also enacted The Uttar Pradesh Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 1974.
Observing that it was not aware with any steps taken so far by any of these bodies to assist the needy advocates and the people attached with their offices, the Court stated,
"We would also like to state that in every Court attached Bar Associations there are several Lawyers having lucrative practice and they too can assist financially or otherwise to the Bar Councils as well as Bar Associations for having some definite plan to assist the needy Advocates and their Clerks, who are registered with High Court or other courts in accordance with the applicable Rules.", it added.
The Court thus called upon Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and others to explain the steps taken by them or to be taken by them to assist the needy advocates and the registered advocate clerks.
The matter would be heard next on April 15.
Read the Order: