New Delhi: About 17 lakh of lawyers across the country on Tuesday held a nationwide protest following the call of Bar Council of India (BCI), which was later joined by various councils and associations. The protesting lawyers have put forward demands raised in the joint meeting of BCI and the state bar council on February 2.
The key demands include, medical facility, insurance, housing schemes, financial assistance to young lawyers, pension schemes, advocate protection act, not to scrap BCI and State Bar Council like Medical bar council of India, to amend the legal service authority Act to enable the lawyers to discharge the functions under the Act, to amend all the Acts for appointment of retired judges/judicial officers as presiding officers in various tribunals and commissions etc.
In Delhi, a peaceful protest was taken out from Patiala Court to Jantar Mantar led by office bearers of BCI, Bar Council of Delhi (BCD), Supreme Court Bar Association, Delhi High Court Bar Association and Coordination Committee. Lawyers from Delhi-NCR and neighbouring states including Haryana and Punjab have come to the streets to take part in the march.
Places like Ludhiana, Punjab, among others, District Bar Association (DBA) has observed the protest day as “no work” day to press their demands. On Monday, the DBA submitted a memorandum to the District and Sessions Judge to forward that to the Supreme Court of India. Mentioning the demands for the welfare of lawyers and litigants, it has been demanded to provide a budgetary allocation of Rs 5,000 crore.
Earlier, the BCD in its appeal said "It is well known that more and more youngsters prefer to adopt a career in law but get disappointed due to inadequate infrastructural facilities or any kind of support. … No medical insurance, place to work, stipend and other facilities have ever been extended and a lawyer has to struggle at his own notwithstanding that everyone has a fundamental right for basic facilities to sustain".
It said the legal profession or Bar Councils should not be treated like the Medical Council of India. “The Independence and autonomy of legal profession cannot be scrapped and handed over to the executive structure to damage the Institution,” BCD added.
"Recent trend has seen non-advocates being allowed to appear before courts tribunals, body or authority having power to take evidence, even statutorily. This being an exclusive right conferred to an advocate under Section 30 of the Advocates Act,1961 any encroachment over our rights cannot be permitted," it further said.