The Apex Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea by the Supreme Court Bar Clerk's Association seeking financial assistance from the Centre on account of hardships faced by them due to the COVID-19 situation.
The Bench, comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah, asked the Association to withdraw its plea, which had requested the Court to direct the Centre to pay each member a monthly amount of Rs. 15,000.
"How can the Centre pay them? Tomorrow anyone will come and ask for payments from the Centre", remarked a displeased Bench.
"Please don't encourage them to take up litigation", added Justice Kaul while asking the Association to withdraw its Petition.
Appearing for the Bar Clerks, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra requested the Bench to allow him to make a representation before the Bar Council of India.
"How can the Bar Council take it up?", replied Justice Bhushan and, without passing any other order or granting any other liberty, urged Luthra to withdraw the plea.
The Supreme Court Bar Clerk's Association had moved the petition asking for the Central government to be directed to pay a monthly amount of Rs. 15,000 to each member, on account of the financial hardships faced by them over the last three months.
Stating that a number of members have not even received their basic salary in these months, the petitioner Association had urged the Top Court to direct the Government to disburse the aforementioned amount to each member with effect from June, 2020 till the time normal functioning of the Court is not restored.
Alleging a violation of their Right to Life under Article 21, the Association apprised the Court of the financial crunch being faced by most of its members, as a result of the nationwide lockdown, imposed since March 24.
The role of clerks is "intrinsically linked to the work discharged by advocates", claimed the petitioner Association. Given that the income of a lawyers is generated through fresh filings, and since there have been very few filings in the last two months, members of the Association have not been paid by their advocates as they too do not have the money, adds the petitioner.
Thus, the Association pressed the need to come up with a scheme which is specifically aimed at ensuring the sustenance and survival of Supreme Court Clerks during uncertain times.
Further claiming that the 'present miseries' have arisen for the members of the Association, as a direct result of the lockdown ordered by the Centre, it is incumbent upon the Government to protect not only the health of people at large, but also the livelihood of every individual, argued the Bar Clerk's Association.Additionally, it was prayed that the Government be asked to come up with a National scheme at the earliest, wherein the terms and amount of ex-gratia compensation is clearly specified.