Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to hold negotiations with the top 3 nationalised insurance companies in India - New India Insurance, United India Insurance, and Oriental Insurance - and finalise the policy on providing group-mediclaim to Advocates within 2 weeks.
In order to expedite the process, the Single Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh has further exempted these insurance companies for the requirement of submitting earnest money deposit (EMD) and experience certificates.
The court has further directed the Delhi Government to hold negotiations with the Life Insurance Corporation of India for providing life insurance to Advocates who have not reached the age of 74 and are practicing in Delhi.
The order has come in a plea moved by the Bar Council of Delhi headed by Advocate KC Mittal seeking a direction to be issued to the Delhi Government to implement its scheme of providing insurance coverage to Advocates practicing in Delhi.
In today's proceedings, the court perused the status report submitted by the Delhi Government which stated that the Technical Evaluation Committee had rejected the bids submitted by the 3 big insurance companies as well as by the LIC on the ground that none of these bidders were technically qualified.
'None of the bidders could meet the requirements of providing earnest money deposit and experience certificates', Mr Satyakam, who appeared for the Delhi Government, submitted.
Senior Advocate Kailash Vasdev, on the other hand, argued that the Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) issued by the Delhi Government had set a very high standard of submitting the EMD and experience certificates.
'These are nationalised insurance companies, terms of each one of them would more or less be the same. They (Delhi Government) can pick any one of them and go ahead with finalising the policy. Moreover, LIC is the only credible life insurance company in the country, rejecting it sends out a bad message', Mr Vasdev argued.
Principal Secretary of the Delhi Government, who was appearing today under notice, submitted that the requirement of EMD was put in place as a form of guarantee.
In light of these submissions, the court observed that the rejection of all bidders would result in further delay for obtaining insurance for lawyers.
'Considering the pandemic, timely issuance of insurance is extremely important. The scheme already passed by the Delhi Government has to bear fruition and can't be allowed to be rendered ineffective in this manner', the court highlighted.
The court further noted that there could be various reasons for bidders to not submit the EMDs or experience certificates. 'Rs. 35 lacs EMD was unreasonable', the court said.
Therefore, while exempting the requirement of submitting the EMD and experience certificates, the court directed the Technical Evaluation Committee to hold negotiations with these 3 big insurance companies for mediclaim and with LIC for life insurance and finalise a policy within 2 weeks. Moreover, the Principal Secretary (Law), Delhi Government, is directed to attend these negotiations.
The decision taken by the said committee has to be placed before the concerned authority and the final decision along with the Minutes of Meeting held by the Technical Evaluation Committee has to be placed before the court by August 28.
'We want to go through the approved policy before the same is operationalised', the court said.
GNCTD also has the liberty to appoint a Consultant, if required, for finalising this process.