The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has announced the introduction of a new financial assistance scheme for the benefit of lawyers who are distressed and in need of aid due to the prevailing lockdown on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The "COVID-19 Financial Assistance and Grant Scheme" intends to provide a one-time ex gratia amount of up to Rs. 20,000 to advocates facing a financial crisis.
The Executive Committee (EC) of the SCBA took this decision after "taking into consideration the serious distress caused to its members by the catastrophic conditions being faced by them".
In order to be eligible for benefits under this scheme, the applicant must feature in the SCBA voter list between 2015 and 2019, and be in dire need of monetary assistance.
In order to avail benefits of the scheme, those eligible are required to furnish a declaration/undertaking in the prescribed for, with details regarding their SCBA membership number along with other details and the serial number of their appearance in the voter list during 2015-2019.
Furthermore, the annual income of an applicant must be less than Rs. 8 lakh to qualify as a beneficiary of the scheme and the application must reveal a dire need of financial aid due to grave financial hardships being faced during the lockdown.
The Advocate must also declare whether they have availed of any COVID-19 related assistance, either in the form of a loan from SCBA (as per the scheme introduced in April) or grant under SCAORA's COVID scheme or any benefit from any Bar Association during this period. In case they have, details of the same must also be attached.
The Scheme and application forms are available on SCBA's website, and members may avail the benefits by sending their applications to a prescribed email ID. The process is explained as follows:-
"Any Member willing to avail this grant must apply to the SCBA in writing with complete particulars to include his full name, age, and residential address as borne on the rolls of the SCBA with SCBA Membership No. The application may be submitted by e- mail with an undertaking to submit a signed copy of the application subsequently and before disbursal of the grant once the same is duly approved. In the application the Member should indicate in case he or she or any person dependent on the member is in need of continued and prolonged medical treatment. The applicant shall provide the bank account details indicating clearly Savings Bank Account No, Name of the Bank, Address and IFSC Code."
These applications will be scrutinized by the EC, and the grant of benefits to an applicant will be left to the EC's sole discretion. If approved, the aforesaid amount will be electronically transferred to the beneficiary's bank account. If rejected, however, no representation will be entertained.
With regard to applications, SCBA has clarified the following-
"The identity of the Advocate seeking benefit under the Scheme will be kept confidential as far as possible.
The applications will be scrutinized by a Committee of the EC constituted for this purpose and after due scrutiny will be put up for approval of the EC which may accept or reject such applications in its discretion. No representations in this regard will be entertained from the applicant. In case the application for the grant is approved the sum aforesaid will be released and credited to the bank account of the applicant through electronic transfer."
The announcement, made on May 25, 2020, also clarified that the SCBA's financial resources were not being used towards the scheme, which is being financed by the "generous and voluntary" donations of SCBA members.
The last date to apply for financial assistance under this scheme is June 3, 2020.
Click Here To Download Guidelines