Bar council of Telangana is set to call for applications from lawyers seeking financial assistance, affected by the unprecedented lockdown since March 22 imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 5, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announced a special package of Rs 25 crore for needy legal practitioners after receiving numerous representations asking for financial support.
“The bar council will conduct the process of receiving applications from needy lawyers and prepare a list of eligible lawyers after scrutinising the applications on merit basis. Chief Justice of Telangana Raghvendra Singh Chauhan is guiding the council in this respect,” said A Narasimha Reddy, Chairman, Bar Council of Telangana. He told NewsClick that of the nearly 40,000 members of the council, over 10,000 lawyers would need financial assistance.
The state government had earlier announced that Rs 15 crore of the promised amount will be sanctioned first. However, it is not clear on what basis the applications will be processed and scrutinised as the state government is yet to notify a government order in this regard.
The criteria for disbursing financial aid need to be expanded in order to provide assistance to all the lawyers who are in dire need to make ends meet. “If junior lawyers are covered under the relief plan provided by the state government, only those lawyers who have enrolled on or after January 1, 2015 will be covered. But the ground reality is that many lawyers, especially practising in district and mandal courts, would need at least 10 years to establish their own independent practice. Therefore, the government must consider providing aid to all lawyers who have enrolled in the last 10 years,” said Santi Sujeevan, advocate at Sircilla district court.
He opined that the lockdown would further increase the already piled up pending cases and the best way to address the problem is by increasing the manpower of the judiciary system and constituting mandal level courts.
According to Narsimha Reddy, the Bar council is considering taking applications from advocates who have seven years’ standing before courts.
As a first round of assistance, the Bar council has already disbursed Rs 3,500 each to 3,454 junior lawyers who sought help. However, Reportedly, the lawyers were disappointed with the meagre financial support.
“Nearly Rs 1.2 crore was utilised by the bar council for providing the first round of assistance collected by raising funds and by utilising the funds from the council’s ‘Indigent and Disabled Advocates Fund,” said Narsimha Reddy.
Also read: COVID-19: Can Reverse Migration Help Revive Rural Economy of Odisha?