Delhi HC adjourns till July 7 hearing on plea seeking ex-gratia funds for needy lawyers

New Delhi [India], June 24 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday adjourned till July 7 hearing on a plea seeking directions to authorities concerned to release ex-gratia funds for a minimum amount of Rs 25,000 to the needy lawyers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was hearing a petition, filed by advocate Vaibhav Sharma, seeking directions to pay ex-gratia of Rs 25,000 to the needy advocates during the ongoing crisis.

Senior advocate Hariharan appeared for the petitioner, whereas Advocates Welfare Trust chairman Sanjay Jain and Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) chairman KC Mittal represented the trust and BCD respectively, which were respondents in the matter.

The respondents' advocate pointed out that under the Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee, a lawyer member of the trust suffering from a serious ailment and undergoing treatment in the hospital, are entitled to reimbursement of the expenses, which he might have incurred and the same is expeditiously reimbursed.

Advocate Jain also pointed out that cases of advocates suffering from coronavirus will also be considered for the purpose, provided the advocate is a member of the trust.

Advocate Mittal apprised the court that the Bar Council of Delhi had already disbursed more than Rs 8 crores to approximately 16,000 advocates, to mitigate the hardship and after disbursement, the funds had to be diverted from other accounts.

He said that the Bar Council of Delhi and the Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee have been working to tie up with prominent hospitals in Delhi to provide facilities for treatment to advocates suffering from coronavirus.

Sharma, in his plea, sought directions to respondents Advocates Welfare Trust Committee, BCD, and any other appropriate authority, to instantly release ex-gratia funds for a minimum amount of Rs 25,000 per member pursuant to his/her making such request.

The plea said that the object and purpose of the instant petition is the welfare of the advocates enrolled with Bar Council of Delhi especially in terms of their sustenance, livelihood, and survival in the unprecedented times of spread of COVID-19.

"Since at the present hour coming out of home has become a life hazard, therefore, it is utmost important for the Advocates to stay at home but by staying at home for about almost 3 months now effectively given the court functions were limited by the court even prior to lockdown in order to contain the outbreak of the pandemic," the plea said.

"Now, a situation has arisen that there is a scarcity of resources and special funds as the majority of lawyers come from humble backgrounds and they are finding it really difficult to make the two ends meet in order to take care of the livelihood of themselves as well as the dependent families behind them," it added. (ANI)