A petition has been filed by an association of lawyers before Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking financial assistance for advocates in need, staff working for advocates, employees of bar associations in the state etc due to the nationwide lockdown declared for combating the coronavirus.
Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla heard the petition filed by Democratic Lawyers' Forum via video conferencing on Tuesday and Advocate General PK Kaurav informed the bench that State government is considering the issue of extending financial assistance to lawyers in need and sought a week's time to apprise the Court regarding the same.
Advocate Ravindra Gupta appeared on behalf of the petitioner forum and argued that the said lockdown may be extended beyond May 3 and as per the Advocates' Act 1961, it's the responsibility of Bar Council of India and as well as the State Bar Councils to ensure the welfare of advocates and smooth running of judicial system in the country and also to assist the Advocates in need.
The petition states-
"The lockdown has adversely affected the livelihood of nearly 1.5 lakh people whose livelihood depends upon the judicial system in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The enormous effect is apparently visible on the profession of advocates and Munshi, clerk, peons, typist, computer operator working with advocates including employees of Bar Associations (including court premises) & AG office . The judicial system has stopped working and indirectly affecting the poor and common man in the State also. Steps are also required to be taken under Disaster Management Act 2005 by State or Central Authorities."
The petitioner forum points out in the petition that "there seems to be sufficient funds with the State Bar Council of Madhya Pradesh under Advocate Welfare Fund" and that it collects "a huge amount during registration of advocates". Funds can also be arranged by the State under Disaster Management Act 2005 which can be utilized under emergency measures for smooth running of the judicial system in the State of Madhya Pradesh, the petition contends.
Thus, the forum seeks directions to provide the immediate help in cash or in kind, to affected persons in need whose livelihood directly depends on the judicial system i.e., advocates, their staff –clerks, munshi, typist, peons, employees of Bar Associations, typist/computer operator in court premises, employees of Advocate General Office etc.
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