The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday directed the Karnataka State Bar Council to submit to the court the ‘COVID-19 Advocate Relief Fund’ scheme framed to disburse ₹5 crore released by the State government for financial assistance to needy advocates in view of pandemic. “The scheme has to be fair and transparent, considering the fact that the money transferred by the government is public money,” the HC made it clear to the KSBC.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi issued the direction while hearing PIL petitions related to grant of financial assistance to advocates’ clerks.
The KSBC told the Bench that the government had on August 26 issued an order asking various associations of advocates to approach the KSBC for financial help citing release of ₹5 crore grant. Also, the government had asked the KSBC to earmark some portion of ₹5 crore for financial help to advocates’ clerks without granting additional funds, the Bench was informed.
The counsel for the Advocates’ Association, Bengaluru, contended that the KSBC, instead of submitting the scheme to the HC, published it on its website. It was also argued on behalf of AAB that the scheme was not proper as advocates who had registered for practice before January 1, 2010, or those above 40 years were made eligible to seek financial assistance leaving out young advocates. However, counsel for KSBC clarified that several advocates registered after January 1, 2010, and requiring financial aid were already given one-time financial assistance of ₹5,000 each from the fund.
The Bench adjourned further hearing till September 7 to examine the KSBC’s scheme.