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Key Takeaways

  • The Delhi Government came up with a scheme for benefit of the advocates of the State and the scheme required for the advocates to be registered with the Bar Council of Delhi and also have Voter IDs in Delhi.
  • The process of registration for the scheme is rather simple and brief.
  • The scheme does not stand the test of equality before law.
  • The Court heard a petition challenging the condition of the scheme and it decided the petition in favor of the petitioners and asked the scheme to be made applicable to all advocates registered with the Bar Council of Delhi.

Introduction

The Indian Judicial system requires for an advocate to represent a party before the Court of Law. The advocates are subjected to various difficulties because the competition is very high and the availability of work to all of them is low. They are also subjected to numerous atrocities because of their profession. In this case, the Government of Delhi came up with a scheme to give benefits to the advocates of the state. This includes not only them but also members of their family which gives them security.

Chief Minister’s Advocates’ Welfare Scheme

The Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal announced the formation of a Committee headed by Supreme Court Bar Association President, Mr. Rakesh Khanna, on 29 November 2019. The Committee consists of 13 members, all of whom are advocates and were in-charge of making recommendations for various schemes that would be beneficial for the advocates of the State of Delhi.

The Committee is of the considered opinion that all practicing advocates in Delhi who are on the verified rolls of the Bar Council of Delhi, i.e. 40,115, and who are on the electoral rolls of any of the Bar Associations in Delhi as of 01.12.2019, be treated as members of the Bar Council of Delhi, subject to due endorsement by the Bar Council of Delhi and cross-endorsement by the respective Bar Association where they have voting rights, be treated as members of the Bar Council of Delhi. This includes the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Delhi High Court Bar Association, the Bar Associations of the Rohini Court, the Tis Hazari Court, the Dwarka Court, the Karkardooma Court, the Saket Court, Patiala House, National Green Tribunal, NCLT, NCLAT, Income tax tribunals, Service Tax tribunal, Armed Forces Tribunal, Debt Recovery Tribunal, Central Administrative Tribunal, National Consumer Commission, State Consumer Forum,

The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi established the ‘Chief Minister's Advocates Welfare Scheme' and a Rs. 50 crore annual fund in honour of the contribution played by advocates in society and the legal profession in particular. The Delhi Government's first-of-its-kind project has received widespread praise from diverse corners. The Committee after having five meetings, finalized and gave a compiled set of recommendations to the Chief Minister. The Committee recommended 4 schemes of Group (Term) Insurance, Group Medi – Claim, e-library and creche facilities.

Group (Term) Insurance

In cooperation with the Life Insurance Corporation of India, the committee proposed that every practicing advocate in Delhi is to be provided Life Term Insurance worth Rs. 10,00,000/-. The nodal agency is planned to be the Law Ministry of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

After consulting with various insurance companies, the Committee came to the following conclusion: Given that the number of advocates likely to be covered under the scheme, according to data provided by the Delhi Bar Council, is around 40,115, the premium amount at the aforementioned rate works out to Rs.10,07,70,894/-. The Committee believed that the LIC's rate to be highly competitive and that it can be recognised by the Government. The Law Ministry of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi will serve as the scheme’s Nodal Agency, and it has the authority to further negotiate the premium if it so wishes.

Group Medi – Claim

The members of the Committee debated the question of providing medical coverage to Delhi-based lawyers and their families for a long time. The Committee believes that every practicing advocate registered in Delhi should be provided with medical coverage through a group medical plan provided by an insurance firm.

The Committee suggests that the Delhi Government should consider taking the New India Assurance Company's offer of a Group Medi-Claim policy for the advocate, spouse, and two dependant children for Rs. 8,500 plus GST. The Law Ministry of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi will serve as the scheme's Nodal Agency, and it has the authority to further negotiate the premium if it so wishes.

E – Library

The Committee proposed for all six District Courts to establish E-Library facilities, as the Committee discovered that they are inadequate. According to the report, “advocates practicing in District Courts have a major problem conducting legal research of the Acts, Rules, and case laws required to prepare their cases and arguments.” The Committee plans to set up E-Library facilities in District Courts, including Tis Hazari Court, Patiala House Court, Kakardooma Court, Saket Court, Dwarka Court, and Rohini Court, with 10 computers fully loaded with e-journals and their web editions, such as SCC Online, All India Reporter, Manupatra, Delhi Law Times, and others, as well as heavy duty printers.

Creche Facility

The Committee advises that creches be provided free of charge in all six District Courts, taking into account the concerns of female advocates and female personnel employed by advocates in various courts in Delhi. The Committee also recommended that the LIC CSR be used to administer the creches. If LIC is unable to manage the creches for any reason, the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi should develop and run the creches at its own expense under the Chief Minister’s Advocate Welfare Scheme, similar to the Supreme Court of India's creche.

Registration Process

The Chief Minister Advocates Welfare Scheme Delhi is open to practicing lawyers who are members of the Delhi Bar Council and are also on the Delhi Voters List. The registration process can be completed online using a simple process.

  1. The registration can be done by opening the Department of Law, Justice and Legislative Affairs’ website.
  2. In the menu, an option to fill an application form would pop up and the details required are to be filled.
  3. Once the form fill-up is done, the preview is available to verify the information provided.
  4. An OTP will be received upon clicking the submit button and after entering the OTP, the registration process would be done.

The advocate would receive a Unique ID number in the mobile number and mail IDs provided during the registration process.

Petition before the Supreme Court

Numerous advocates submitted several petitions in this regard, requesting that the scheme's scope be expanded to include all people enrolled with the Delhi Bar Council. The Welfare Scheme's goal is admirable, but limiting its application to Delhi residents having a voter identification card would be discriminatory and unfair.

The Court relied on the Bar Council of India Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, the Advocates Act, and the Bar Council of Delhi Rules, 1963, and found that the advocates’ place of residence was not given any weight in any of the provisions. The residential location is determined by the economic level; not everyone can afford residence in Delhi, but this does not influence the location of practice. The Court said that the CMA Welfare Scheme should be extended to all attorneys registered with the Delhi Bar Council as well as residents of the National Capital Region.

Right to Equality and the Scheme

Equality before the law essentially means that all people should be treated similarly, regardless of their socioeconomic status, gender, or caste. The State is unable to grant any preferential treatment to anyone in the country. It is sometimes referred to as legal equality.

Equality before the law forbids any community or individual from receiving special treatment. It makes no mention of equal treatment under the same circumstances. According to it, the ideal situation must exist, and the State does not need to intervene in society by giving additional benefits.

The Rule of Law states that no one is above the law and that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Magna carta is the source of the concept of Rule of Law. It signifies that the law is the same for everyone in the same line. Because the State has no religion, everyone is on the same page and uniformity will be enforced across the board. The Rule of Law governs and controls every organ of the Indian state, according to the Indian constitution. The Rule of Law necessitates that executive authorities’ discretion be restrained within well-defined parameters. The Rule of Law is woven throughout India’s constitution and is one of its most fundamental elements.

These provisions are provided for in the Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The scheme that has been incorporated for the benefits of the advocates should include all the advocates of the State. This means that any practicing advocate in the State of Delhi should be given the privilege. The condition put forward by the Government to provide this benefit to advocates having voter IDs does not put the advocates on an equal pedestal. The advocates who are registered with the Delhi Bar Council and practicing in the Delhi High Court or District Courts should be eligible to avail the scheme. The place of residence should not be a ground for differentiation in getting a benefit.

When the test of classification is taken into consideration, it requires two conditions to be fulfilled, i.e., intelligible differentia and rationale nexus and the objective behind. When we consider the objective of the Government in having this scheme, it was for the benefit of the advocates. Now the differentiation in the condition imposed is the place of residence of the advocates which is that the advocates who are not residents of Delhi are not eligible for the scheme. This is against the principle of equality before law as it imposes preferential treatment for the same group of people. This does not fulfil the goal of the Government behind the scheme.

Conclusion

The scheme introduced by the Government is a great initiative for the benefit of advocates of the State but the condition imposed takes away that benefit from a lot of advocates. The decision of the Court in this regard has been taken keeping in mind the various provisions that elaborate the conduct of the advocates in the State. The Court has decided the scheme to be applicable to all the advocates registered with the Bar Council of Delhi which is very mindful.


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