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A Letter Petition has been moved before the Chief Justice of India for creation of an Emergency Fund for young practising advocates across India, who are in dire need of financial help due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The letter petition preferred by Advocates Pawan Prakash Pathak and Alok Singh states that the COVID-19 pandemic is a bigger threat as compared to the 2008 global financial crisis as it would not only slam the brakes on economic activity but also bring enormous human sufferings.
".. 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 the huge persistent income inequality, unemployment, inaccessibility to proper health care by the working class, inaccessible quality education and other essential services.", it is stated.
The letter petition claims that if the lockdown is further extended, it would pose a serious threat to the life and liberty of advocates who have litigation as the only source of income.
Stating that the situation was getting worse day-by-day with limited supplies and additional burden of paying for rent, food & medical bills, the Petitioners have stated,
"It is humbly submitted that we are not advocating for the “financial aid” as our “fundamental right” during the current pandemic."
The Petitioners acknowledge that although various State Bar Associations across the country have come up with financial aid schemes for advocates, the same is not uniform or equal.
It is added that with respect to similar schemes rolled out by Bar Associations, the advocates who are not their members are left at the mercy of God.
"..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..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.", it is stated.
In view of the above, the Petitioners have sought to invoke the power under the Advocate Act, 1961 for creation of an Emergency Fund for all young, independent advocates who are in need of financial assistance during COVID-19.
It is suggested that monthly or one time financial assistance or loan may be provided to advocates and the amount may be refunded to the donors once the advocates availing the financial assistance return the money to the fund.