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The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a petition seeking a direction to the Delhi Government to extend the benefits under CM Advocates’ Welfare Scheme to all Delhi advocates, irrespective of their names in Delhi voter list. (Govind Swaroop vs State of Delhi & Ors)
While issuing notice to the Delhi Government, Bar Council of Delhi and Bar Council of India, a single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh said,
The Petition has been moved by Advocate Govind Swaroop Chaturvedi who resides in Gurugram, Haryana but is enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi.
In November last year, Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal had announced that a 13-member committee of lawyers would be set up to make recommendations on the utilization of the Rs. 50 crore earmarked for the Advocates Welfare Fund by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
While suggesting benefits such as group insurance, e-library etc, the Committee had recommended that the beneficiaries under the Scheme should include members of Bar Council of Delhi and those who are on the electoral roll of any of the Bar Associations in Delhi as on December 1, 2019.
When the scheme was approved and announced, the Delhi Government restricted the benefits to only those members of Bar Council of Delhi who were in the Voters’ List of Delhi.
It is the Petitioner's case that discrimination on the basis of an advocate's name in the voters' list of Delhi was illegal, ultra-vires and was liable to be modified/set-aside in view of Articles 14, 19 and 21.
"..the discrimination on the basis of name on the voters’ list in Delhi is not based on any reasonableness.. Petitioner and the other advocates, who are in the same position as Petitioner, are playing same role for rendering their services for dispensation of justice in the courts at Delhi and are contributing in same manner to the Society.", the Petition reads.
The Petitioner has also said that the exclusion of non-Delhi residents was "violative of concept of Humanity" and "if allowed to stand, it will lead to absurdity and disastrous consequences".
Arguing that a welfare scheme withs political overtones could not be allowed, the Petitioner has prayed for a direction to set aside the Chief Minister Advocates’ Welfare Scheme to the extent that it grants benefits under the Scheme only to Delhi voters.
Before the Court, the Bar Council of Delhi has supported the Petitioner's stance that benefits of the Welfare Scheme should be extended to all members of the Bar Council of Delhi.
Chairman KC Mittal informed the Court that there are more than 1 lakh advocates enrolled with the BCD and approximately 20% of them reside in NCR regions of Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad etc.
It was added that although almost 29,000 Delhi-based advocates have already been enrolled in the scheme, the exclusion of non-Delhi advocates would leave a substantial number of advocates registered with the BCD out of the scheme.
Represented by Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra, Stayakam the Delhi Government, on the other hand, said the Welfare Scheme was launched by the local Government for the local people who are residents of Delhi. Therefore, advocates residing in the NCR region had rightly been excluded.
The matter would be heard next on June 18.
Read the Order: