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SC anguished as lawyers turn ‘petitioners-in-person’

New Delhi,  The Supreme Court on Tuesday took exception to the increasing number of lawyers becoming petitioner-in-person to argue their matter, and filing petitions after reading newspapers and portals.

A bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai noted that lawyers cannot create work by filing petitions after reading newspapers and portals. “You may have a perspective, but court’ cannot be a forum to vent this perspective,” said the top court.

The observation came from the top court while hearing a letter petition seeking creation of an emergency fund for advocates in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bench dismissed the plea filed and warned the advocate of imposing heavy costs.

The petitioners have moved the top court seeking creation of an emergency fund for young practicing advocates across the country, as in the absence of work due to lockdown; these lawyers are in dire need of financial help.

Justice Kaul queried to the advocate, is he the petitioner in person on the matter. “In the absence of work, lawyers cannot keep filing cases connected to coronavirus. You are not a person on the field,” said Justice Kaul.

Justice Bhushan also observed that the court cannot implement orders of the government, and there is a helpline to monitor the situation. “We are not entertaining this,” said Justice Bhushan. Justice Kaul added that he is tired of lawyers coming to court and arguing the matter as petitioner-in-person.

The petitioners if the lockdown is further extended, it would directly threaten the life and liberty of advocates, who earn their living through litigation. “It’s time that the protector of fundamental and legal rights take care of this responsibility as a one class (Bar and Bench), rather than waiting for state or union relief funds as they have to take care of other professions and citizens at large,” contended the petition.

The petitioners submitted that although various bar associations across the country have come up with financial aid schemes for advocates, it is not uniform. During the last hearing on the matter, the top court had observed that it had “no money to give”, and that the Bar Council of India (BCI) should examine the issue.

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