Lawyers mull funds for needy advocates
The prevailing lockdown across the country has taken a toll on junior advocates of Gauhati High Court, prompting the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to propose a fund for the needy lawyers practising under it.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Gauhati High Court is hearing only the urgent cases through video-conference on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Chairman of the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, has requested senior advocates to donate funds to the State Bar Council for financial assistance to the needy lawyers.
Choudhury, a senior lawyer, has also written to the chief ministers of the five states and the Bar Council of India (BCI) requesting funds for providing financial assistance to the needy lawyers.
There are 35,000 lawyers registered under the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. As many as 18,000 lawyers are practising under the council.
The Bar Council of India (BCI), in response to the appeal for financial aid, has assured Choudhury over phone that the request was under its consideration and follow-up action would be communicated after the lockdown ends on April 14.
“The advocate fraternity has no social security. They are professionals and not salaried employees. Most of the advocates attend courts by staying with their families in rented houses. They have to depend on their daily earnings. I am in constant touch with the senior advocates regarding the issue and we are sure of reaching a conclusion in a meeting of the council after the lockdown. We are yet to discuss and decide the criteria and prepare a list of the needy lawyers,” Choudhury told this correspondent.
The BCI has already a welfare fund for lawyers.
In the prevailing scenario, Choudhury is mulling a welfare fund in addition to other donations with the BCI’s approval.
“As many as Rs 40 lakh of the Bar Council of India’s welfare funds (20 per cent contribution of members) are lying with our council. As soon as the lockdown ends an immediate meeting will be held to chalk out plans on execution of the proposal,” he said.
“We are hopeful of a healthy fund and are chalking out plans and criteria on implementation of providing assistance to the needy. The condition has become worse for some lawyers in Guwahati. Some of them even do not have rice and dal in their kitchens. Some senior lawyers personally have offered essential commodities to a few needy lawyers in the city,” Nekibur Zaman, another senior lawyer, said.
A junior advocate said: “We do not get any salary but we get paid for the service we provide to the litigants.”
Several cases are pending in the high court and the lockdown has compounded the problem.