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"We have no funds to give, let BCI decide": Supreme Court in a plea seeking emergency welfare fund for lawyers during COVID-19 lockdown

Debayan Roy

While hearing a plea for creation of an emergency fund for lawyers who are without work during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Supreme Court observed that "courts have no money to give".

The Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana further said that the Bar Council of India (BCI) will look into the issue.

Two advocates, Pawan Prakash Pathak and Alok Singh, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking that an emergency fund be set up for those lawyers who are in dire need of assistance during the lockdown.

The plea stated that independent advocates across India, whose only source of income was litigation, were facing a tough time and that the Court should direct the BCI for the creation of a fund.

However, the Court noted that it was not for the judges to interfere in the matter.

"How can we direct creation of funds? We can't create special category for lawyers when unfortunately the whole country is facing a difficult situation. Let the Bar Council of India decide."
Justice SK Kaul

Justice Ramana stated that "some of the Bar councils have taken up this issue" and that they were "paying funds to independent lawyers." Justice Kaul reiterated,

"We have no funds to give to you. Everyone is without work. Not only lawyers but advocates too. It's for the bar councils to take action. We cannot tell the bar council what action to take."

Even as the petitioner urged the Court that advocates have a statutory right to seek assistance through funds under the Advocates Act, the Court disposed of the matter, stating that the BCI would take the plea into consideration.

Read the Petition:

Emergency Fund for Lawyers - Final Writ Petition.pdf
Preview

[READ ORDER]

Fund for Lawyers during lockdown Order.pdf
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