Consider reopening registration for CM’s advocate welfare scheme: Delhi High Court to Delhi Govt

The Delhi High Court Friday asked the AAP government to consider reopening registration for two-weeks for lawyers, who are voters in the national capital and could not sign up for the Rs 50 crore Chief Minister’s Advocates Welfare Scheme which includes medical and life insurance cover.

The court asked the Delhi government to complete the process of receiving financial bids by insurance companies and award the contract to the successful bidder so that the firm can start issuing policy to those who have registered for the scheme.

The premium of those insurance policies will be paid by the Delhi government, it noted, adding that “there is no need to delay the process for lawyers who have already registered under the scheme”.

Justice Prathiba M Singh was informed by senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing Delhi government, that he be given some time to look into the issue as to whether the benefit of the scheme can be extended to NCR lawyers and he will hold discussion with all the stakeholders to try to resolve the issue.

Regarding the issue of including NCR-based lawyers in the welfare scheme, the court said that if a decision is not taken till the next date, it will hear the submission in this regard and pass an appropriate order.

It asked the Delhi government to consider opening a fresh window for two weeks for the Delhi lawyers who could not register under the scheme within the deadline in April due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The court, which was holding the hearing through video conferencing, listed the matter for further proceedings of August 28.

During the hearing, Justice Singh observed that these are hard times and young lawyers are facing difficulties as regular functioning of courts has been suspended and only urgent matters are being taken up.

The court was informed by Delhi government lawyer Satyakam that bids have been received from various insurance companies and the process in going on.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions, including a plea by Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) seeking grant of mediclaim and term insurance for 29,098 advocates registered with it.

The court had earlier directed the AAP government to invite tenders for providing mediclaim and term insurance to lawyers registered with BCD under the welfare scheme.

According to the BCD’s plea, moved through its chairman K C Mittal, there are 37,135 lawyers who are registered voters in Delhi and of these 29,098 are on the BCD’s rolls and have been verified by it.

It has said that vide cabinet decision of December 17, 2019, Delhi government decided to provide medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh and term insurance of Rs 10 lakh to lawyers, who are residents of the national capital, under the Chief Minister Advocates Welfare Scheme.

The petition contended that no scheme was made available in 2019-20 and even during COVID crisis nothing was done.

The court also heard another plea by advocate Govind Swaroop Chaturvedi seeking direction to extend the benefit of the welfare scheme to all those enrolled with the BCD irrespective of whether their names appear in the voters list of the national capital or not.

He said he is enrolled with the BCD and has membership of Delhi High Court Bar Association and is practicing in courts here but does not reside in the national capital now and claimed that the notification is discriminatory and illegal and unreasonable and the discrimination on the basis of name on the voters’ list in Delhi is not based on any reasonableness.

The pleas have sought to quash or modify the government’s March 17 notification to the extent of deleting the eligibility condition on the basis of name in the voters’ list of Delhi, for extending the welfare benefits.

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