The Delhi High Court has said that “clerks serve a crucial role and are so intrinsically linked to the work discharged by the Bar that they are indispensable to the smooth functioning of this entire institution.”
A bench presided by Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Clerks Association seeking a direction to the Union Government to form Rs 5 crore fund for the welfare of the clerks who are members of the Association, to ensure their subsistence during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.
The petitioner Association also urged the Court for a direction to immediately pay Rs.20, 000/- to the members of the Association, who are suffering financial distress amid COVID-19 lockdown, as interim relief, in a time bound manner and to formulate a scheme for the welfare of the members of the Association so as to come out from the effect of COVID-19.
The petitioners submitted that “the 3500 members of the association are finding it very difficult to survive during this grim period when their employers, who are Advocates practising in this Court, are not in a position to pay them any salary because of insufficient availability of work.”
They further submitted that not only do these members have families to support but they also have to pay rent for the premises they are residing in, yet despite their repeated representations, they have not received any assistance from any of the authorities, including the Government of NCT of Delhi.
Moreover, since the DHCBA has already set up a COVID Relief Fund, out of collections received from members of the Bar, for rendering assistance to Advocates in need, there is no reason to deny creation of a similar fund to help these clerks during this difficult period, especially since they are assisting these very advocates in discharging duties before this Court, submitted the Petitioners.
During the course of hearing Advocate Mohit Mathur, President of the Delhi High Court Bar Association and Senior Counsel Dayan Krishnan volunteered to pay a sum of Rs 2 lakhs each whereas Senior Counsel Inder Singh Alag pledged to pay Rs. 1 Lakh to the fund.
The bench while appreciating the generosity of the Senior Lawyers said that the creation of the fund will not be possible without the assistance of all the members of the Bar including the members of the Clerk Association.
The counsel appearing for the Delhi Government submitted that he will seek instructions on the issue.
The bench has posted the matter for next hearing on July 1 for consideration of the other reliefs sought in the petition.
-India Legal Bureau
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