Clerks of lawyers are part and parcel of the system involved in dispensation of justice, the Delhi High Court has said while holding that medical and canteen facilities should be extended to them.
The observation was made by the court on a petition by the Delhi High Court Bar Clerks Association seeking enforcement of several welfare measures including provident fund, pensions and group insurance policies.
"We are of the view that at least the medical facilities available in the Dispensary at Delhi HC and the canteen facility available to the employees of the Registry should be and needs to be extended to the members of the petitioner association as they are also part and parcel of the system which is involved in dispensation of the justice to the litigants...
"This court can visualise the difficulties being faced by the members of the petitioner association with regard to the need for medical facility and canteen facility while discharging their duties from early morning till late night in the Court Campus," said a recent order by the bench headed by the then Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, and Justice Brijesh Sethi.
However, for providing both these facilities certain basic formalities and guidelines are required to be laid down which have to be followed in order to maintain discipline, the high court said.
The bench constituted a committee consisting senior advocates Arvind Nigam, Kirti Uppal, Inderbir Singh Alag, Mohit Mathur and advocate Abhijat (president and secretary of the Delhi High Court Bar Association), and Rashpal Thakur, president of the petitioner association.
"That apart the Registrar General and two officers nominated by the Registrar General shall form part of the committee. The committee may deliberate upon all issues connect with the aspect i.e. providing canteen facility and use of Dispensary facility and submit the report indicating the formalities and the guidelines which are to be followed for providing these facilities as indicated herein above to the members of petitioner association," the bench said.
The court asked the committee to conclude its deliberation within six weeks and posted the matter for hearing on July 25.
The petitioner association has claimed that several states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh have already enacted a law to promote the welfare of clerks who have to depend on charity and donation of the advocates employing them.
The association, which represents over 20,000 lawyers' clerks working in the various courts of the national capital, has contended that its members have been deprived of their fundamental rights, including right to medical benefits to a workman.
The association has urged the court to direct the authorities to promote, safeguard and implement the clerks' fundamental rights to social security and welfare measures.