Karnataka HC
Karnataka HC
Litigation News

You can't exclude an entire class of advocates: Karnataka HC asks State to review KSBC scheme for disbursing Rs 5 crore to needy advocates

Under the said KSBC scheme, lady advocates, young advocates enrolled on or after 1/1/2010, and advocates who have enrolled after the age of 40 years are not eligible for the amount.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The state government on Monday informed the Karnataka High Court Court that no more funds can be released for the benefit of advocate clerks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State further asked the Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) to give financial assistance to advocate clerks from the Rs 5 crore already disbursed to it for financially disadvantaged advocates.

On hearing this, Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice NS Sanjay Gowda orally observed,

"Somebody will have to challenge these orders... clerks, Bar Associations will have to challenge it."

When the matter was taken up for hearing today, the state government further clarified that it would not be in a position to consider the representations made by individual Bar Associations. The State had passed an order asking individual lawyers bodies to approach the KSBC.

Hearing this submission, the Court opined,

"The order, on the face of it, shows non-application of mind."

The Court was further informed of the differentiation between male and female lawyers with respect to the scheme formulated by KSBC on August 26 to disburse the amount of Rs 5 crore sanctioned by the state government.

Under the said KSBC scheme, lady advocates, young advocates enrolled on or after 1/1/2010, and advocates who have enrolled after the age of 40 years are not eligible for the amount.

Ksbc scheme
Ksbc scheme

"The scheme should be extended to both male and female advocates. There is no logical justification for this differentiation", submitted Chinnappa.

Noting the various classes of advocates exempted from the KSBC scheme, the Court said,

"You can't exclude an entire class of advocates saying that benefit will not be extended to those advocates who are above 40. The government must review this."

To this, Chinnappa urged KSBC to re-analyse the entire process of disbursing funds in order to ensure that the State does not have to intervene later on.

"They have to make the scheme more broad-based so that it covers everybody", said Chinnappa.

Advocate Anil Kumar, appearing for the Advocates Association Bengaluru, concurred with the view of the state government and submitted that the current scheme was "faulty".

In this regard, the Bench, in its order, said,

"The scheme for distribution of the amount sanctioned by the state government is in the form of circular dated August 26, 2020. The state government and other parties will have to take a stand about the fairness of the scheme. The stand taken by the state government will be of some importance as it is public money which the State has given to the Bar Council."

During the hearing, counsel appearing for the Kalaburagi Bar Association informed the Bench that many advocates had paid salaries to the clerks associated with them. No other individual representations asking for monetary help had been received by the Association, he added.

To this, the Court said,

"We are not only talking about clerks in High Court, but clerks working in district Courts also."

The counsel then submitted that both clerks in the High Court and the district courts had received salaries. The Court asked the counsel to place the above on record.

The matter will be next heard on September 16.

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