The Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the Trustees Committee, constituted under the Uttar Pradesh Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 1974, to take a loan in case it does not have sufficient funds to assist financially weak lawyers, during the lockdown period.
"Under Section 5 the Trustees Committee may use its powers in the present times to borrow funds and, therefore, under no circumstances can U.P. Advocates' Welfare Fund Trustees Committee come up with a case that it is lacking funds. It can also not transfer it's burden of providing help to the State Bar Council as under Section 4 of the Act virtually all funds of the State Bar Council stand transferred to it," the bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma has ordered.
The direction was passed in view of the lax approach of the Committee to formulate a scheme for releasing of funds towards needy Advocates, despite court's order dated April 20, 2020. The Committee had informed the court that the failure to devise a disbursal scheme was on account of "no money" in the funds.
Rejecting this submission, the bench highlighted that the funds received under Section 4 of the UP Advocates Welfare Fund Act in the form of stamp duty on certificates of enrolment paid by advocates, are sufficient for bringing succour to lawyers in the present times. The bench further noted that Section 5 of the Act provides that the Trust could also borrow money for the welfare of needy advocates.
In this backdrop the court directed that the Committee may proceed to borrow money. "We further provide that if the Trust applies for loans it may be extended the same. The guarantee may be provided by the Government," the order states.
The bench also emphasized on Rule 44B of the Bar Council of India Rules, which provides for formulation of a scheme for providing financial assistance to lawyers during natural calamity, etc.
"When Rules of the Bar Council of India provide for help to an advocate at the time of a natural calamity then a scheme ought to have been formulated by the Trustees of the Act under Section 3(1)(c) of the 1974 Act for providing succour to needy advocates in the present times when Courts have been indefinitely made nonfunctional because of the spread of Covind-19 virus," the bench observed.
The matter will now be taken up on May 26.
Case Title: In Re - Assistance To The Needy Advocates And Registered Advocate Clerks
Case No.: PIL 569/2020
Quorum: Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma
Appearance: Advocate Archana Singh (for UP Advocates' Welfare Fund Trustees Committee); Advocate Manan Mishra (for Bar Council of India); Advocate Anandi Krishna Narayan (for Bar Council of UP); Advocates HGS Parihar and Sharad Pathak (for Oudh Bar Association) and Senior Advocates Rakesh Pandey and Amrendra Nath Singh for (Allahabad HCBA)
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