Bar associations primary responsibility to aid lawyers amid Covid: Supreme Court

Published: 28 September, 2020 20:04 IST | IANS | Mumbai

The top court observed that all bar associations have suggested that the Centre should set up a contingency fund to provide interest-free loans for the lawyers struggling to meet ends

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that it is the bar associations' primary responsibility to fund deserving lawyers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noting that the Centre has to spend on a lot of people, yet has been asked to examine the possibility of a contingency fund, the court also queried if it is possible to find real and deserving lawyers for any financial aid scheme against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, while hearing the suo moto case on providing financial aid to lawyers amid the pandemic, said the court finds the response from the bar associations inadequate and cited that these bodies are connected to rich business houses.

"We have asked the Centre but shouldn't the major part of the funding be from the bar associations? We feel it is their primary responsibility... Centre has to spend on a lot of people," it observed.

The top court observed that all bar associations have suggested that the Centre should set up a contingency fund to provide interest-free loans for the lawyers struggling to meet ends. However, the bench said if an advocate's income has been reduced to zero due to the pandemic, then it is not an issue. But, can a lawyer, who is not practising, become eligible for this aid, it queried.

"The pandemic cannot become a boon for them," said the bench, citing that such a decision has to be taken carefully.

Noting that there is a possibility that real and deserving lawyers may be left out, especially against the backdrop of the power structure, the bench reiterated that it is essential to identify the lawyers who really need such aid and sought assistance of senior advocate Shekhar Naphade in the matter.

Senior advocate Ajit Kumar submitted before that though few state governments have created a fund, these are running dry now, after supporting the lawyers from the beginning of the pandemic.

The bench will hear the matter after two weeks and it will examine the replies from various state-level bar associations.

In July, the top court had issued notice on a plea during the hearing of petitions seeking interest-free loans for lawyers amid Covid-19.

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