The Department of Justice has invited lawyers and legal professionals to register and provide information regarding their areas of expertise, in order to create a database of lawyers willing to provide pro-bono services to litigants.
“Creation of the database will assist the Department of Justice in identifying lawyers providing pro bono services. The information could be utilized by DoJ to create a liaison between entitled to legal services under The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 and a qualified lawyer providing pro bono services having expertise or interest in the related matter. The government has also proposed to include and recognize pro bono legal assistance provided by lawyers as a yardstick to be considered for appointment to appropriate positions. The database therefore will act as an additional tool for the authorities to assess pro bono services provided by lawyers,” an official release states. It further lists down the following three objectives for creation of the database:
The DoJ has already written to all Bar Councils and Bar Associations across the country to provide information of lawyers who are engaged in providing pro bono legal services to the poor. It has clarified that while there are no age restrictions for creating a profile for pro-bono undertakings, those between 44-54 years of age have the option to provide additional information, if they are interested to be considered for appropriate positions.
The Law Ministry is also considering the possibility of laying emphasis on pro-bono legal assistance provided by Advocates to needy litigants as one of the proposed yardstick to be considered for appointment as Judges of High Courts. In this regard, it had planned to create a database of Advocates willing to provide pro bono assistance to needy litigants. It had, however, stipulated that Advocates willing to work pro bono must also fulfill the additional age and income criteria. These Advocates must be between 45 and 55 years old, and must have a minimum annual professional net income of Rs. 5 lakh and above for the past 5 years.