Delhi HC Deliberates on Extension of Benefits of Advocates Welfare Scheme to All Members of Bar Council of Delhi

A single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh of the High Court of Delhi issued a notice to the Delhi Government. Explicitly, the petition seeks to extend the benefits of the CM Advocates Welfare Fund Scheme to all Delhi advocates irrespective of not being on the Delhi voter list. The Petitioner, Adv. Govind Swaroop Chaturvedi is a resident of Gurugram, Haryana; enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD).

Arguments of the Petitioner

According to the Petitioner, membership of the Bar Council of Delhi should be the criterion for determining the recipients of the Scheme. Considering any other factor would result in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Citing grounds of discrimination, the Petitioner claimed that there was no intelligible differentia for this distinction. The petitioner argued that the advocates with the same background as the Petitioner “are playing same role for rendering their services for dispensation of justice in the courts at Delhi and are contributing in same manner to the Society.” Furthermore, it was highlighted that the exclusion of non-Delhi residents is “violative of concept of Humanity“; that, if allowed to stand, it will lead to absurdity and disastrous consequences.

The Scheme

A 13- member committee of lawyers in November 2019 was tasked with coming up with recommendations for the utilization of 50 crores. This stood ear marked for the CM Advocates Welfare Scheme. The Delhi government had announced the scheme for the welfare of all practising advocates enrolled on the BCD. The Committee suggested benefits such as group insurance and e-library. Additionally, the Committee had also recommended that the criterion of beneficiaries under the Scheme. Accordingly they had suggested that it should not be limited to the advocates on the Delhi voter list. Instead it should also include members of BCD. It should also extend to those who are on the electoral roll of any of the Bar Associations in Delhi.

The Bar Council of Delhi supported the Petitioner’s stance in the Court. The matter stands scheduled on June 18, 2020, for further proceedings.