On 17 July 2020, a plea filed by the Supreme Court Bar Clerks’ Association seeking direction to the government to pay compensation in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, and loss of income was refused by the Supreme Court.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah heard the matter where the petitioning organization was asked asto how the Central government be directed to pay maintenance compensation to Bar Clerks.
“How can Union of India pay this?” – Justice Ashok Bhushan
“Everyone will start coming to Courts then”- Justice MR Shah
The Association was represented by Senior Counsel SiddharthLuthra who argued that under the Disaster Management Act, which has been invoked, such compensation payment schemes are a mandate. However, Luthra sought permission to withdraw the plea by seeing Court’s disinclinationand approach the Bar Council of India (BCI) for the solution.
The Bench questioned Luthra as “How will Bar Council help with clerks.” Hence, the Court directed the petitioners to withdraw the petition in the matter.
A plea by the members of the Supreme Court Bar Clerks Association seeking a direction to the government was heard by the Bench, in order to owing the financial difficulties arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and provides them a monthly “maintenance compensation” of Rs 15,000.
The plea mentioned that ever since the lockdown was put in force of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of clerks have been left unemployed.
Advocate Deepak Prakash filing the statement stated that clerks are now on the “verge of penury”, who normally earnedRs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 by way of salary and tips given by the litigants.
“The Centre owes a duty of care both in protecting the health of people at large and as well as the livelihood of every individual or citizen including the Advocates’ clerks.”, stated the Petitioner.
A needto formulate a scheme for the sustenance and “basic survival to implement the constitutional guarantees under Article 21 of our Constitution”was put forth by the members of the petitioner association as they hail from far off places inAssam or Kerala.
The petition was settled by Senior Advocate Mohan V Katarki and drawn by Advocates Gaurav Agarwal and Divyangna Malik