The Bar Council of Delhi has filed a writ petition for mandamus through its Chairman KC Mittal. It was under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. The petition seeks to direct the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to grant medical and term insurance policies to the Advocates finalized by the Government of Delhi and registered under the Chief Minister’s Advocate Welfare Scheme.
Brief Facts of the Case
The petitioner mentioned that the Cabinet in 2019 had decided to provide benefits to the Advocates under CM Advocates Welfare Scheme. The Advocates should have registered themselves under the Bar Council of Delhi. They have their names on the voters’ list to avail benefits. The benefits included Medical insurance and Term insurance of 5 lakhs and 10 lakhs. A committee had been set up to enforce this decision. But this scheme was not implemented due to an undue delay until 2020.
From 20th March 2020, the registrations were open up to 31st March 2020. The Prime Minister had imposed a complete lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Registrations began at the same time and the Respondent’s server had been down too. Thus, several advocates were unable to log in. On request, the duration for registration was extended up to 19th April 2020. The issues were not resolved and 1 and ½ months had elapsed, but the benefits were not granted. Thus, the petitioner filed a writ of mandamus before the HC of Delhi to seek a direction to the Delhi Government.
Contentions before the Court
The petitioner claimed that the government failed to provide benefits through the scheme. The respondents had failed to resolve the technical issues despite several reminders. This issue had continued to exist during the lockdown up to the extended date of 19.04.2020. The respondents did not accept the request for extension up to 30.04.2020. This was arbitrary and unreasonable, violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
Respondent No. 1 had deprived the advocates entitled to the benefits and denied them opportunities. It was due to no fault of theirs, but due to the failure of Respondent No. 1. The Petitioner mentions that the legal fraternity had appreciated the budgetary allocation. The inaction and delay had caused serious prejudice. It deprived them of insurance during COVID-19.
“That more than 1 and ½ months has elapsed, but the schemes have not been implemented so far, despite registration of various advocates, leaving aside those who could not register due to inefficiency of Respondent No. 1. It may be pertinent to point out that those insurance policies as promised are necessary to provide treatment to lawyers, particularly during Covid-19.”
The petitioner claims to have filed this petition to safeguard the interest of the legal fraternity. The Delhi Government had assured the Bar Council of Delhi that steps were being taken by the Government about the Chief Minister’s Welfare Scheme, during the hearing of the plea.
This writ petition was in relation to an identical writ petition titled- Govind Swaroop Chaturvedi v. State of NCT of Delhi & others.
A Single Judge Bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Pratibha M. Singh had been set up. Before this petition, the HC of Delhi issued a notice to the Government. It asked to extend the last date of registration considering the lockdown. The Bench allowed the Government to place the concerned documents on record. This showed the steps taken by the Government to put in place the Chief Minister’s Advocates Welfare Scheme.
The Bench has stated that the next hearing would be on the 18th of June 2020.
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