Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to start the tender process for the Chief Minister Advocates Welfare Scheme by fixing the opening and closing dates for submitting financial bids before August 7.
The Single Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh has also asked the Delhi Government to take a compassionate stance towards the lawyers who could not register before the April deadline and provide a 2 weeks window for them to do the same.
The order has come in a bunch of writ petitions moved by the Bar Council of Delhi seeking a direction to the Delhi Government to implement the CM Advocates Welfare Scheme, especially during the taxing times of COVID19 pandemic.
BCD has claimed that the Delhi Government should obtain the insurance policies of all the registered advocates who are 29,098 in number from insurance companies and the policies should then be forwarded to the said advocates.
In today's hearing, the Delhi Government submitted that the Notice Inviting Tenders (NIT) was published on June 25 after consulting the Chairman of the BCD, Mr KC Mittal.
After issuance of the NIT, a pre-bidding meeting was conducted with the BCD Chairman and the insurance companies wherein certain suggestions were made to amend the NIT. The same was done by issuing a corrigendum to the original NIT.
Senior Advocate Kailash Vasdev, on the other hand, submitted the Delhi Government is making deliberate attempts to delay the process of providing insurance to the lawyers.
Senior Advocate Amarjit Singh Chandiok, who appeared for one of the Petitioners, submitted that an important feature of Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, 2015, is that it is the `place of practice', which entitles an advocate to seek registration under the local Bar Council, and not the place of residence.
Therefore, Mr Chandiok argued, that the distinction, which is sought to be carved between advocates, who are residents of Delhi and those who are not
residents of Delhi, for the purpose of extending the scheme, would be completely unlawful and untenable.
While noting that there should be no delay in implementing the scheme for at least those lawyers who have already registered, the court said:
'GNCTD will fix the opening and closing dates for bids before August 07. Subsequently, GNCTD will access all the bids and award the tender to the successful bidder. Thereafter, the final contract will be finalised under the aegis of the Technical Evaluation Committee. After the final contract is processed, the insurance company will issue policies to the lawyers the premiums for which will be paid by the Delhi Government.'
On the issue of extending the scheme to NCR lawyers, the court took into consideration the submission made by Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayyar who said that he will take up this issue internally with the authorities.
While noting that if no favourable decision is taken for NCR lawyers, the court will hear their plea on the next date, the matter got adjourned till August 28.