The Supreme Court on Wednesday took note of the financial difficulties faced by advocates due to the online functioning of courts amid the Covid pandemic, which has led to a smaller number of cases getting listed for hearing.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said the unprecedented crisis required an unprecedented resolution and issued notices to the Bar Council of India (BCI), the central government, all state bar councils and bar associations across the country to explore the possibility of setting up a relief fund for deserving and eligible advocates.
The bench noted that resumption of physical courts in the near future appeared bleak because of medical experts advising against it but the court has decided to take up the matter on account of the losses being faced by advocates due to decreasing litigation work.
It even noted that lawyers are bound by the rules to restrict their income only to the profession. Under the Advocates Act, the lawyers are not entitled to earn a livelihood by any other means.
“In such a circumstance the closure of courts has deprived a sizeable section of the legal profession of their livelihood,” the bench said while slating the hearing after two weeks.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by BCI who has sought a direction to the central government to arrange for financial assistance through interest-free loans of up to Rs 3 lakh to every advocate enrolled with the respective State Bar Council.
Courts across India stopped open court hearings after the lockdown was imposed on March 24 Since then, they have resorted to virtual hearings of “urgent matters”.
Meanwhile, CJI said a seven-judge committee has been constituted to decide in four weeks whether the physical hearing in the apex court could resume.
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