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Insurance cover plea for lawyers

Manan Kumar Mishra at the news meet in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ashok Sinha

Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra wants insurance cover for lawyers across the country.

Mishra, who was in the city on Wednesday, outlined the council’s future course of action to streamline the legal profession through quality education and better remuneration for lawyers.

He said he met Union law minister Salman Khurshid recently and raised the issue of providing insurance scheme for lawyers to provide them financial protection in the event of accident, death or any other untoward incident. “The law minister has asked me to send a proposal,” he said.

Mishra, who was unanimously elected chairman on Sunday replacing Ashok Parija, is the second person after Suraj Narain Prasad Sinha from Bihar to head BCI.

He practises in Patna High Court as well as the Supreme Court. He is a senior advocate in the high court since November 2007. He joined the Bar in 1980.

“As chairman, my priority would be to initiate reforms in legal education and profession. The country has witnessed a growth of around 600 law colleges without proper infrastructure and faculty. Such bogus law colleges must be shut down immediately to check the decline in legal education,” Mishra said.

He added: “These institutes are mostly run by private individuals or organisations on a commercial basis. These colleges are proving to be an impediment in producing good lawyers.”

Mishra advocated the setting up of a lawyers’ academy on the lines of judicial academies in each state to impart continuous legal education to improve the quality of practising lawyers. Stating that welfare schemes for lawyers would be one of BCI’s primary agenda, the senior advocate mooted the idea of giving a monthly stipend of Rs 20,000 to budding lawyers for the next three years.

He said they should also be given some government cases.

The chairman also opposed two proposed bills, the higher education and research bill, 2010 and the entry of foreign legal institutes and legal practitioners’ bill, 2011, saying it was an attempt by the Centre to encroach upon the BCI and state bar councils, which have been entrusted with regulating the legal education and profession. Legal education, at present, is regulated throughout the country by BCI and its state units but the proposed higher education and research bill intends to usurp its duties and functions, Mishra said, adding that the legal practitioners’ bill, 2011 would take away the council’s right to take or initiate disciplinary action against lawyers.

Bihar State Bar Council chairman Baleshwar Prasad Sharma and his deputy Sadhu Sharan Yadav, senior advocates and members of council supported Mishra’s move to fix 5 per cent seats for eminent lawyers in the Legislative Council as well as the Rajya Sabha.