Deeply affected by the financial stress that the lawyer's community is facing due to restricted functioning of courts, over 2000 women Lawyers from across the country have sent a letter to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking aid for "financially drained Advocates".
The women lawyers have urged the Home Minister to exercise his powers under the Disaster Management Act and formulate a uniform policy to provide the practicing advocates loan up to Rs. 5,00,000/-, payable in 36 equal monthly installments with moratorium period of one year.
"Due to the continued lockdown of courts, Advocates' fundamental right to live with dignity, right to work and right to livelihood are being infringed. What is really shocking is that no provision/remedy to lessen the hardships suffered by the Advocates is being thought of by the Central Government yet," they wrote.
The letter is prompted by the news of suicides by several young advocates, reportedly due to the acute financial crisis in this phase of National Health Emergency.
The letter points out that till today, even after several representations to the concerned Ministry by various organizations, advocates, Bar Associations etc. no financial help package is issued by the Union of India to help the legal fraternity in these "trying times".
"Since most of the advocates being professionals do maintain average living standards and since ninety percent of them are above poverty line, the meager helping amount of Rs. 5,000/- or Rs.10,000/- is draining and exhausting the Bar Councils financially and the same has even failed to address the financial difficulties of Advocates," the lawyers said.
"That welfare Funds which are there to take care of contingencies is now under gaze to fix loss of daily income of Advocates, and even if this fund is used up to the last coin, it will not be enough to take care of the financial needs of an average Advocate. So placing welfare funds to run household of Advocates won't cause any benefit to us as a community rather will pull the financial security which otherwise Advocates have in case of any health emergency"
The lawyers group has urged that loan may be given on personal guarantee of the advocates by taking corporate guarantee from Bar Council of India or from respective State Bar Councils. Further, the Government may direct the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company to add advocates as one of its category to the existing schemes like Skill Development; Education loans; Factoring; Micro Units and Standup India for providing such loans under this scheme through suitable channels.
In addition to this, the Central Government can also extend health insurance coverage to all advocates as part of Ayushman Bharat Scheme and amidst this COVID-19 crisis, the representation suggests.
Click Here To Download Letter