The Calcutta High Court will take up on Thursday a letter by its Bar Association as a PIL, which sought direction on the Bar Council of West Bengal to provide financial assistance to lawyers in distress due to the long period of suspension of work owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Claiming that the Council takes subscriptions from lawyers registered with it, the Calcutta High Court Bar Association sought that it comes to the assistance of the distressed lawyers who are not in a good financial position at this hour of crisis.
With the professional practice having come to a standstill following the lockdown and the high court deciding to hear only very urgent matters since March 15, financially weak lawyers should be given assistance by the Council, which is the parent body of all registered lawyers, Bar Association president Ashok Dhandania said.
He said that he has written to the Registrar General of the high court seeking that the Bar Council be asked to come to the assistance of lawyers in financial distress.
The letter, which will be treated as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), will be listed for hearing before a division bench presided by Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan, a senior official in the high court administration said.
According to Bar Council sources, it maintains a fund from which monetary assistance is given to lawyers who are ill and in case of death, funeral expenses of Rs 10,000 is given to the spouse, who is also given Rs 2,000 per month for the next three years.
The benefit is given to those lawyers or their spouses who contribute a fixed amount of Rs 1,000 during enrollment, the sources said.
There is also a welfare fund maintained by the West Bengal government, wherein if a lawyer contributes a token amount annually, his or her nominee is entitled to Rs 50,000 in case of natural death and Rs 1,00,000 if the death is unnatural, the sources said.