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No Special Treatment For Lawyers During Lockdown; Can't Issue Directions To Waive Rent For Lawyers' Offices: SC

Sanya Talwar
30 April 2020 7:49 AM GMT
No Special Treatment For Lawyers During Lockdown; Cant Issue Directions To Waive Rent For Lawyers Offices: SC
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The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a petition which sought exemption to advocates from payment of rent for their offices/chambers during lockdown.Observing that lawyers cannot be given "special treatment", a bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & B.R. Gavai refused to entertain the plea for an appropriate scheme to support advocates to pay rent of...

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a petition which sought exemption to advocates from payment of rent for their offices/chambers during lockdown.

Observing that lawyers cannot be given "special treatment", a bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & B.R. Gavai refused to entertain the plea for an appropriate scheme to support advocates to pay rent of their professional premises during lockdown.

Mr. Kailash Vasdev, appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association stated that the Court must consider the prayer that non-payment of rent shall not lead to eviction for lawyers as "they were high density areas".

"We are not saying rent should not be charged. We are only saying that non payment of rent should not be made a grounds for eviction during the lockdown. Lawyers will lose office space" added Petitioner(s)

After the Court expressed its disinclination, the petition was withdrawn by the Petitioner.

"We will withdraw it and send the same to the Government" the petitioner stated.

Senior Advocate Rana Mukherjee appeared for the petitioner.

A Delhi based lawyer, Advocate Aljo K. Joseph had moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Government to formulate an appropriate scheme to support advocates from paying their rent, exclusively for the professional premises.

The plea pointed out that many lawyers pay "exorbitant rents" for their professional spaces for the sake of remaining close to Courts of law. However, since lockdown, many lawyers who depend on regular incomes are suffering due to loss of work and as such it has become difficult for them to pay the rent for their office premises.

The plea contended that the inaction of the government in supporting lawyers has ultimately affected their right to livelihood protected under Article 19 of the Constitution, in so far as they are being forced to vacate their office premises.

"As stated in part III of constitution of India right to life and practice any profession is a fundamental right And such a situation if it arose due to the pandemic and continuing lock down if the professionals are forced to vacate the professional premises and or pay the rent during this pandemic continuing lock down, it would also affect the constitutional guarantee under part III of the constitution of India," the plea contended

Inter alia, the Petitioner submitted that they cannot even invoke the clause of "non-payment due to a Force Majeure event" since they do not provide blanket waiver from payment of lease rentals on occurrence of every Force Majeure event.

The petition is drawn and filed by Advocates Sachin Sharma.



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