Important To Identify Lawyers Entitled For Financial Assistance, Bar Bodies Should Extend Help: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court Monday said it is important to identify lawyers who are facing financial problems due to restricted functioning of courts owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and bar associations should extend more help to them at the time of crisis.
In this crisis, why don't you put your hands in your pocket and provide help to those who are members of your bar, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde observed.
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, told the lawyers representing several bar bodies that advocate associations have the primary responsibility of extending help to needy lawyers as the Centre has to spend money on a lot of people in this crisis situation.
Should not the major part of funding comes from the bar associations, asked the bench.
The primary responsibility is of the bar associations. The Government of India has to spent money on a lot of people in this crisis situation, the bench observed.
The important thing here is to identify advocates, who need and are entitled to help and assistance, it said, adding, You have to be careful. The pandemic cannot become a boon.
The apex court said it has asked the Centre about setting up of contingency funds for lawyers.
The counsel appearing for several bar bodies said they have been extending help as much as possible to needy lawyers during the pandemic for last over six months.
The apex court said it would hear after two weeks the matter regarding the issue of financial problems faced by advocates due to restricted functioning of courts in the country due to the pandemic.
In July this year, the top court had taken serious note of financial problems faced by advocates due to the pandemic and had sought response from the Centre and all bar bodies on setting up a fund for providing relief to lawyers.
The apex body of lawyers, Bar Council of India has also moved the court seeking financial assistance, including disbursal of soft loans, to the needy advocates during the pandemic which has crippled judicial functioning.
The top court had also issued the notice on the transfer petition filed by BCI seeking transfer of similar cases pending in different high courts to the apex court.
Courts across the country are hearing urgent matters only via video link since last week of March due to the coronavirus pandemic making things difficult for common lawyers.
The petition has sought a direction to the Centre as well as all the states to arrange an interest-free loan of up to Rs three lakh each to advocates enrolled with the Bar Councils.
It has said the advocates form an essential and integral part of the justice delivery system and it is necessary to look after their well-being.