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The Karnataka High Court asked the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) what immediate relief could be extended to needy members of the Bar who are suffering due to lack of income owing to the Coronavirus Lockdown.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna stated,
Karnataka High Court
The Court passed the above direction while dealing with a petition filed by Advocate H C Shivaramu, which highlighted the pitiable condition of junior lawyers due to the closure of courts in the state. Even registered court clerks were facing similar difficulties, the petition added.
The petition further submits,
"Under Sub-section 2 of Section 6 and similarly under sub-section of Section 7 the State Bar Council and State Bar of India has power to constitute one or more funds in the prescribed manner for the purpose of giving financial assistance to organize welfare schemes for indigent, disabled or other advocates. Under Rule 44B of the Bar Council Rules, the Bar Council of India shall utilize the funds received under Rule 41 (2) in accordance with the schemes which may be framed from time to time."
The petitioner further contended that various welfare schemes were formulated, but the KSBC had not taken any active steps to invite applications to provide financial aid through these schemes.
Also, not providing any financial relief to such needy advocates is violative of Article 21, the petition points out.
The plea further relied on the fact that the Delhi government had sanctioned Rs. 50 crore to the Delhi Bar Council to provide financial assistance to needy advocates.
On these grounds, the petitioner sought the release of ₹50,000 each to the needy advocates facing financial hardship, except for those advocates who have registered after 40 years or retired from service.
The matter will be next heard on April 28.
[Read order here]