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Chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi KC Mittal today told the Delhi High Court that more than Rs 8 crore had already been disbursed to approximately 16,000 advocates in the wake of difficulties faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The submission was made in a petition seeking the instant release of an ex gratia amount of at least Rs 25,000 from the Advocates Welfare Fund, for the benefit of Delhi lawyers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition, preferred by Advocate Vaibhav Sharma, was heard today by a Divison Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Prateek Jalan.
The petitioner states that the Bar Council of Delhi has an Advocate Welfare Committee which has an account/fund in terms of Rule 44A of the Bar Council of India Rules, to implement welfare schemes.
This fund is administered by the Trustee Committee as mentioned in Section 11 of the Advocates Welfare Fund Act. It is further pointed out that Section 19 of the Act provides for an ex gratia grant in certain circumstances, including hospitalization etc.
In view of the above, the petitioner has prayed that the lawyers who need financial assistance due to the ‘disability’ caused by the ‘serious disease’ i.e. COVID-19, may be given a grant of a minimum amount of Rs. 25,000.
During today's hearing, Senior Advocate Sanjay Jain, who is the Chairman of the Trustee Committee, stated that a lawyer member of the Trust who is suffering from any serious ailment - including COVID-19 - and is undergoing treatment in the hospital, was entitled for reimbursement of the expenses in terms of the Act.
Mittal submitted that the Bar Council of Delhi and the Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee had been working towards a collaboration with prominent hospitals in Delhi for provision of treatment to advocates suffering from COVID-19. The lawyers' bodies would take care of the hospital expenses, it was submitted.
The BCD Chairman also informed the Court that the Indigent and Disabled Lawyers Committee of the Bar Council of Delhi has already sought information about advocates who have been impacted by the virus, and that applications were being examined.
In view of the submissions made by the parties, the Court adjourned the matter to July 7. The Bar Council of Delhi has been asked to come back with an update on the welfare scheme in place for advocates.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate N Hariharan.