Bar Council plea for soft loans to lawyers
The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court for a direction to the Centre and the states to provide financial assistance, including soft loans, to lawyers who have fallen on hard times, even starving, because of the pandemic and the prolonged lockdown.
According to Mannan Kumar Misra, the chairperson of the BCI that regulates legal education and advocates, many of the 16 lakh advocates enrolled with the state Bar Councils have been left with no income and had no savings to fall back on.
“The prolonged closure of the courts and tribunals all over the country since March 2020 due to the lockdown declared by the government of India and the various state governments to combat the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in depriving the majority of the advocates of their only source of income,” the BCI petition, which is likely to come up for hearing on Friday, said.
“This has affected all sections of the profession and the younger and junior advocates are hit hardest financially. A large number of them has various commitments to meet apart from keeping their and their family’s body and soul together.
“The situation of some of them is so grim that it may not be an exaggeration to say that they face virtual starvation and they require urgent and immediate financial aid and succor. It is the estimate of the petitioner — the BCI — that about 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the advocates enrolled would be in need of immediate financial help,” the plea added.
The BCI has pointed out that many are first-generation lawyers, which means none else in their families are in the legal profession. These advocates are solely dependent on the regular, though meager, income they earn from appearing in different courts and tribunals as well as before quasi-judicial authorities, the BCI said.
“This significant section of lawyers has no real savings to fall back on and they are dependent on the regular functioning of the courts and tribunals for their livelihood. They are particularly vulnerable financially since they are relative beginners in the profession and therefore, their financial position is very precarious,” the plea said.