While hearing the suo motu case on providing financial aid to lawyers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court today wondered how "real, deserving, and unfortunate" lawyers could be identified so as to avail of any financial aid scheme..The Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian noted today that all the High Court bar associations have suggested that the Centre develop a contingency fund from which interest-free loans can be given to struggling lawyers.However, CJI Bobde wondered aloud,."If an advocate has been making certain amount of income and due to pandemic it has become zero, then I can understand. But a lawyer who made no money, can this help become a source of income? The pandemic cannot become a boon for them. We have to be careful."said CJI SA Bobde.The Bench further noted that "the power structure" would lead to the exclusion of the real, deserving lawyers. While asking Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade to help the Bench in identifying such members, CJI Bobde said,"The important thing is to identify lawyers who are entitled to such help. The really deserving ones may not get the help due to the power structure and here most powerful gets most of the benefits. The unfortunate ones don't get it.".It was also observed that though the Centre has been asked to set up a contingency fund for lawyers in order to disburse these loans, it was indeed the duty of the bar associations to fund the deprived lawyers. "We find the response of all these associations inadequate. You are connected to society and to rich business houses. It's a difficult situation and what we say is only for COVID-19. We have asked the Centre but should not the major part of the funding be from bar associations? We feel primary responsibility is of the association of advocates. Centre has to spend on a lot of people.".Senior Advocate Ajit Kumar stated that though some of the states created such a fund, they were facing a shortage now, as those funds have supported lawyers for over eight months. .The case will now be heard after two weeks, when the Apex Court will look at replies from state bar associations on the questions posed to them. .On July 22, while hearing a petitions seeking interest-free loans for lawyers reeling under the financial difficulties caused by COVID-19, the Court had issued notice in the plea. Notice was also issued to the Registrar General of each High Court..Financial assistance for lawyers amid COVID-19: Supreme Court acknowledges "dire situation"; issues notice in suo motu matter, BCI plea.While taking suo motu notice of the situation, the Court had stated,"We are faced with an unprecedented crisis which needs an unprecedent solution. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on lives of citizens and especially lawyers. We are conscious of the fact that the legal fraternity is bound by rules to restrict income only to profession and are not entitled to earn a livelihood by any other means. Closure of courts has impacted a sizeable portion of legal profession and thus affected livelihood and income. This is a dire situation.".The Court also addressed calls by lawyers' bodies for the re-opening of courts during the COVID-19 pandemic. It stated,"There is a constant demand to resume normal functioning of the courts. This demand is difficult as it jeopardizes the heath of all those who attend court in congregation including judges and lawyers...medical advice is to not start resumption of court immediately. Nonetheless, it is not possible to ignore livelihood of lawyers…".The plea filed by Bar Council of India (BCI) through Advocate SN Bhat urges the Court for directions to government authorities to disburse loans of upto Rs 3 lakh to lawyers "repayable by the advocate concerned at least 12 months after the normal functioning of the courts begins in reasonable instalments.".Also sought was a direction to provide financial assistance to financially needy advocates enrolled with various State Bar Councils in view of the unprecedented crisis.According to the BCI, there are presently about 16 lakh advocates enrolled with different State Bar Councils across the country..BCI stated that a significant section of the affected lawyers include first-generation lawyers. The petition reads,."These advocates are solely dependent on the regular, though meagre, income they earn from appearing in different courts and various tribunals as well as before the quasi-judicial authorities. This significant section of lawyers has no real savings to fall back on and they are dependent on the regular functioning of the courts and tribunals for their livelihood."