8 Sep 2020 2:06 PM GMT
The petitioner Mr. Vaibhav Sharma in a PIL before the Delhi High Court raised issues regarding the disbursement of funds by the Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee (AWFTC) to its member advocates stating that the issues raised by it before the Court are not subject matter of proceedings pending before the Supreme Court and can thus be adjudicated upon by the...
The petitioner Mr. Vaibhav Sharma in a PIL before the Delhi High Court raised issues regarding the disbursement of funds by the Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee (AWFTC) to its member advocates stating that the issues raised by it before the Court are not subject matter of proceedings pending before the Supreme Court and can thus be adjudicated upon by the Court.
The petitioner asked the Court to issue direction to the AWFTC or to any other appropriate authority to release ex-gratia funds for a minimum amount of Rs. 25,000/- per member pursuant to his/her making such request in the hazzle free manner/ format within an outer limit of 3 days pursuant to making such request.
In this regard, the Additional Solicitor General Mr. Sanjay Jain appearing as Chairperson of the Committee of AWFTC informed the Court that
"₹1 crore has been allocated for the welfare of the advocates who are members of the Advocates Welfare Trust, and are suffering indigent situation on account of the pandemic and that relief to the extent of Rs.10,000/- per person would be provided to such advocates."
He also informed the Court that medical expenses are being reimbursed by AWFTC to those members who are suffering from Covid-19 through RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement).
Advocate K.C. Mittal,for Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) submitted that Bar Council of Delhi has deposited has deposited an amount of Rs.93,00,000/- with the AWFTC towards its share under Section 15 of the Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 2001.
However, the Counsel for the petitioner Mr. N. Hariharan contended that the aforesaid amount is insufficient looking to the number of advocates. He further submitted that the information with regard to the welfare activities be disseminated to the members of the Trust widely so that maximum members may avail the facility, and that Advocates who are not members of the Trust should also be encouraged to join so that they can also avail the benefits.
Noting the submissions, the Bench comprising of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan stated that for the time being, it appears that the steps taken by the AWFTC are adequate for the welfare of the advocates.
Huge funds have been allocated for disbursement to the advocates who are in indigent situation and also infected by Covid-19.
However, the Court also noted that it expects that AWFTC continues to monitor the situation and, as and when their financial position permits, increases the amount to be given to the advocates.
It also stated that it expects AWFTC to disseminate the information about the welfare activities carried on by it to its members widely. Furthermore, it stated that
"it ought to be kept in mind that those who are members of respondent No.1 (AWFTC) are being provided the aforesaid benefits by respondent No.1 and therefore, more membership is expected from lawyers with respondent No.1. The respondents will take all necessary measures to encourage lawyers to avail of membership of the Trust, and make themselves eligible for the benefits being offered."
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