HC seeks Delhi govt, Bar councils reply on plea against advocate welfare scheme restrictions

New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday sought response of the AAP government and bar councils on a plea by a lawyer seeking direction to extend the benefit of 'Chief Minister's Advocates' Welfare Scheme' to all those enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) irrespective of whether their names appear in the voters list of the national capital or not.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, issued notices to the Delhi government, BCD and Bar Council of India (BCI) on the petition which has sought to quash or modify the government's March 17 notification by deleting the eligibility condition on the basis of name in the voters' list of Delhi, for extending the welfare benefits.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on June 18.

The petition said that in November 2019, the Delhi government had announced the scheme for the welfare of all the practicing advocates of the national capital who are on the rolls of BCD.

A 13-member committee of advocates was set up to give recommendations for the utilisation of the Rs 50 crore grant towards the scheme and the government had accepted the recommendations given by the panel.

Petitioner and advocate Govind Swaroop Chaturvedi said he is enrolled with the BCD and has membership of Delhi High Court Bar Association and is practicing in courts here but does not reside in the national capital.  He said he was earlier a resident of Delhi and has not shifted to Gurugram and claimed that the notification is discriminatory and illegal and unreasonable and the discrimination on the basis of name on the voters' list in Delhi is not based on any reasonableness.

“There cannot be any classification on the basis of name in the voters' list or place of residence of the advocates for availing the benefits under the impugned notification, as the petitioner and the other advocates, who are in the same position as petitioner, are playing same role for rendering their services for dispensation of justice in the courts at Delhi and are contributing in same manner to the society,” it said.

The plea said the Delhi government has shown undue haste in the entire process by stipulating the last date for submission of applications as March 31 and subsequently April 14, despite a nationwide lockdown imposed by the Central Government.

“The benefits from the scheme are yet to flow. Vide the present petition, the petitioner seeks urgent directions to the respondent no. 1 (Delhi government) for removing this condition and to ensure that the benefits of the welfare scheme are provided expeditiously to petitioner and all advocates applying for it, who are enrolled with BCD as per last verification, notwithstanding their residence or name in voters' list of Delhi,” it said. PTI SKV HMP SA