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31 Mar 2020, 01:35 HRS IST
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  • Lawyers approach HC over restrictions on Delhi govt's advocates' welfare scheme

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13:23 HRS IST



New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI)
Several lawyers Tuesday approached the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the AAP government to extend the benefit of 'Chief Minister's Advocates' Welfare Scheme' to all lawyers enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) irrespective of whether their names appear in the voters list of the national capital or not.



Advocate Naginder Benipal, representing five petitioners who are practicing lawyers, said he mentioned the matter on phone before the registrar (listing and filing) of the high court and was informed by the court official that the plea will be listed once the coronavirus threat is over.

The functioning of the high court has been suspended till April 4 in view of the coronavirus threat and pleas have to be mentioned before the registrar over phone and the hearing on matters of only extreme urgency are to be conducted, that too through video conferencing.

The petition said that in November 2019, the Delhi government had announced the scheme for the welfare of all the practicing advocates of the national capital who are on the rolls of BCD.

A 13-member committee of advocates was set up to give recommendations for the utilisation of the Rs 50 crore grant towards the scheme and the government had accepted the recommendations given by the panel, it said.

The petitioners -- advocates Balvinder Singh Bagga, Manisha Saroha, Vivek Jain, Shivam Chanana and Vaibhav Kalra -- have challenged the Delhi government's decision to restrict the scheme to only those members of BCD who are in the voters list of Delhi.

The petitioners said they are enrolled with the BCD and have membership of Delhi High Court Bar Association and are practicing in courts here but do not reside in the national capital and their exclusion from the scheme is arbitrary and not in conformity with the constitutional scheme and policy .

The plea said that on December 18 last year, the Delhi government had approved all the schemes recommended by the committee. However, despite the recommendation of the committee that the scheme would apply to all the members of BCD, the Council of Ministers restricted the scheme to only those members of BCD who are in the voters' list of Delhi .

The restriction of the benefit of the scheme to only those members of the BCD who are in the voters' list of Delhi is unreasonable, arbitrary, unfair, unjust, illegal and unconstitutional. The purpose of the scheme was to cover under its ambit all the practicing advocates in Delhi on verified rolls of the BCD irrespective of their place of residence/place of voting or any other criteria, the plea said, adding that the restriction was violative of the provisions of the Constitution.

The advocates alleged that the restriction was "politically motivated" and sought a direction to the Delhi government to extend the benefit of the scheme to all the advocates enrolled with the BCD irrespective of their voter ID card.

It also sought direction to the BCD to take appropriate measures for ensuring extension of the benefits of the scheme to all the members enrolled under its roll irrespective of the fact whether they have Delhi voter ID card or not.

The Delhi government, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bar Council of Delhi have been arrayed as parties in the petition.

As per the government directive, the eligible advocates who intend to avail the benefits of the scheme may fill the application online which will be available on the website of the Law Department from March 21 till March 31, 2020.

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