The Bar Council of India through a press release dated February 12, 2019, has informed that a joint meeting comprising of representatives of all State Bar Councils, Co-ordination Committee of Bar Associations of Delhi & NCR and other Bar Associations of the country will be convened on March 2, 2019, in the premises of Bar Council of India.
The decision was taken pursuant to the failure of Union Law Minister to grant funds for the welfare of advocates and to fulfil other genuine demands made by the BCI.
Following a nationwide lawyers’ agitation and a demonstration staged by representatives of members of the Delhi Bar and BCI at Jantar Mantar, Delhi a BCI delegation led by BCI ChairmanManan Kumar Mishra meet Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to have a detailed discussion over all the demands.
On the point of housing of lawyers, the Law Minister expressed his inability and said that it is the state’s subject. However, the minister assured to talk with Delhi Development Authority for Delhi lawyers in this regard.
Moreover, the minister said in the meeting that a committee of lawyers and officials would be constituted to propose ways in which welfare measures for lawyers may be introduced. But at this moment he cannot grant any corpus fund from the Union Government for the purpose of welfare measures of the lawyers.
To this, the BCI release states that it is “dissatisfied and dismayed on the hollow assurances given by the union government. The Bar was under the impression that after witnessing the Unity and Reaction of about 18 lakhs lawyers of the country, the Government would accept the genuine demands of the lawyers.”
On February 6, 2019, BCI had announced a nationwide lawyers’ agitation on February 12, 2019, over inaction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not doing anything for legal fraternity and its deaf ear to the letter of BCI chairman dated January 22, 2019.
The agitation was launched to press the following demands:-
- All the Bar Associations of the country should have, chamber, adequate building/accommodation/sitting facilities with well-equipped libraries, e-libraries with internet facilities, toilet etc. and separate sitting & toilet facilities for lady adequate.
- Budgetary allocation of Rs 5000 crores for lawyers and litigants’ welfare in Annual Budget of Union in order to implement the following requirements:-
- Insurance cover for lawyers and their families (dependants).
- Stipend for needy new entrants at the Bar up to 5 years of their practice (minimum Rs 10,000 per month).
- Financial protection to lawyers and their dependents in case of untimely death or incapacitation by reason of disease, accident, etc.
- The Government should frame schemes to acquire land at cheaper rates for Housing for Advocates (on the pattern of the Haryana Government).
- Legal Services Authority Act – amendments and necessary changes should be made in the Act so that the functions under this Act could be discharged by the Lawyers (and not the Judges or Judicial Officers only).
- All the Acts (which provide for appointments of retired Judges/Judicial Officers as the presiding Officers/Member of different Tribunals, Commissions or Forums/Authorities) should be properly amended so that competent Advocates (and not only the Judges) could also be appointed on these places.
While informing that a meeting involving Bar Council and Bar Association representatives has been scheduled to be held in March, the BCI has cautioned and said that “If, before the issuance of notification of Parliamentary elections, the government does not accept the demands of the Advocates, the lawyers would be constrained to take some strong decision.”