As Centre Sets Up Committee To Formulate Insurance Cover For Advocates, BCI Calls It An "Eyewash"

As Centre Sets Up Committee To Formulate Insurance Cover For Advocates, BCI Calls It An "Eyewash"

Almost a month after advocates across the country came out on the streets to pressurize the government to take measures for their welfare and with the BCI resolving to take "strong decision" if the demands were not met prior to issuance of notification for the General Elections, the Centre has set up a five-member committee to work on an insurance scheme for advocates, an exercise the BCI has termed "eyewash".

The Union Minister for Law & Justice has set up the committee under the chairmanship of Secretary Legal Affairs to examine the issues related to framing of a proper, structured scheme for providing of insurance cover to the advocates and also suggest modalities for the implementation of such scheme.

Other members on the committee include a senior representative from the Department of Financial Services and representative of the Department of Legal Affairs. The committee will also have one representative each from the Bar Council of India and state Bar Councils.

BCI terms move "eyewash"

BCI chairman senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, however, was far from impressed as he termed the announcement an "eyewash".

"This is nothing but an eyewash. What we were demanding was an annual budgetary allocation for welfare of advocates. If not welfare, then at least something for infrastructure for Bar Associations or libraries. They should see how advocates work without any infrastructure. In states likes Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc., advocates do not have chambers, they operate from under the huts and plastic covers.

"We are now silent because the country is going to elections and because of the India-Pakistan situation," Mishra told LiveLaw.

"Now elections are coming. What can be done? Nothing. See (Arvind) Kejriwal….how he announced Rs 50 crore budgetary allocation for lawyers. Now we have come to know that the UP government is also going to make similar announcement soon. The Centre could have done something back then we were raising our voices and when the Parliament was in Session. Now elections are coming so there is nothing more to it," said Mishra.

It is to be noted that the BCI had early this year written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising 10 demands for the welfare of advocates, including insurance cover for lawyers and their families, enactment of the Advocates Protection Act etc.

On February 12, lakhs of lawyers participated in the protest with as many as 35,000 lawyers participating in a protest march from Patiala House to Jantar Mantar in Delhi only.

During the protest meeting at Jantar Mantar, Prasad had invited and met a 21-member delegation of the Bar led by Mishra.

Prasad had then promised to constitute a committee of lawyers and officials to find out ways to take welfare measures for advocates but had expressed his inability to grant any corpus fund from the Union Government.

Post this meeting, the BCI had expressed its "dissatisfaction and dismay" at the hollow assurances given by the Centre and had resolved of "strong decision" if the demands were not met prior to issuance of notification for the General Elections.

In the meantime, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a budgetary allowance of Rs 50 crore for welfare of advocates of Delhi and NCR.