In high Court of Andhra Pradesh petition has been filed to challenge the state bar council decision to disburse financial aid to lawyers as loans with interest:
The petitioner submits that the State government’s grant of Rs 25 Crores to the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh for assistance to lawyers in need amid the COVID-19 pandemic should be given to the lawyer’s ex gratia. The decision to grant the aid as loans with interest is “illegal, irregular, irrational and violation of principles of natural justice“
The Government of Andhra Pradesh had recently decided to sanction a sum of Rs 25 Crores to be disbursed to lawyers struggling financially amid the pandemic.
Petitioner argues that the government had resolved to release the amount for the welfare of struggling advocates as”assistance” and not as “loan”. Therefore, the amounts cannot be extended as loans to be repaid with interest imposed.
Such a demand would contravene the Advocates Act, which requires the State Bar Council to provide assistance to lawyers, as argued by the petitioners.
The petitioner’s grievance lies with the Bar Council’s resolution to disburse these amounts as loans with interest. The petition records that the Council has also floated a scheme for a health insurance cover for lawyers in need.
He argued that the health insurance scheme was outside the scope of the Government’s grant, as was the repayment requirement. The scheme impedes the efforts to aid financially-straitened advocates.
Citing the examples of other Bar Councils who had distributed money to advocates in need following the decisions of similarly-constituted committees, the petitioner asks why the Andhra Pradesh Bar Council did not do the same?
As argued by the petitioners The entire burden is on the Advocate General to answer this and the other Members will be in the Committee also equally responsible. The proceedings don’t show who are the members of the Committee and when the decision was taken and why the interest portion was added which runs contrary to section 6(2) of the Advocates Act, 1961.