The Bombay High Court issued a notice on a PIL filed by 12 young lawyers from Maharashtra seeking a permanent stipend by providing 5,000 per month to new and junior lawyers with an annual income of less than 1 lakh for the first three months of their practice. They sought the stipend from the Maharashtra Advocates Welfare Fund citing difficulty due to lockdowns at different points in time due to Covid-19.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik issued notices to Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, Advocates Welfare Fund Trust Committee and State of Maharashtra returnable on 14th March.
The petition states that every lawyer in Maharashtra and Goa is registered under the Bar Council of India as well as the Maharashtra and Goa Bar council and has paid Rs 15,000 towards the welfare fund for lawyers hence it becomes the responsibility of these Respondent Councils to look into the welfare for the lawyers, especially in these difficult times. The respondents in the petition are Maharashtra Advocates Welfare & Fund Trustee Committee, Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa and the state of Maharashtra.
The petition argues that the State Government along with Bar Council is responsible and has a legal obligation to constitute a fund called Advocate's Welfare Fund and contribute to the fund and while the State government may have taken many concrete steps to fight against Covid-19 corona, no steps have been taken to provide financial assistance to new lawyers.
The petition seeks directions for the respondents to act swiftly to initiate some online process and declare Standard Operating System (SOP) on the website of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa for new and junior advocates so that they can file applications to get stipend.