Law Street Journal recently interviewed Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra, the President of the Bar Council of India. As the president of one of the most prominent legal organizations of the country, Mr. Mishra has made significant efforts to promote the welfare of those in the legal system with significant results which have had a positive impact on the legal fraternity. In light of the outbreak of Covid-19 and the lockdown that followed it, Law Street Journal interviewed Mr. Mishra to enquire about the economic impact it would have on lawyers.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava in conversation with Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra-President, Bar Council of India:
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: The Bar Council of India wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to provide at least Rs. 20,000 to lawyers every month. What is the reason behind this?
Manan Kumar Mishra: The source of income of the lawyers is solely based on their legal profession and as per rules they cannot do any other work. They can’t do any business or any part time job too. I am not speaking on behalf of lawyers who are privileged.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: So which lawyers have been offered financial assistance?
Manan Kumar Mishra: Whosoever is paying taxes or whose income is good, we are not counting them in. We have used the word “needy” especially for someone who is a young lawyer or whose family background is not so well to do, who is completely dependent on his profession and is unable to even pay rent due to the lockdown.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: So how do we identify which lawyers are in need? Is there any age limit laid down for ‘young lawyers’?
Manan Kumar Mishra: No, there are some aged lawyers as well as young ones who need this help. They do not have any source of income. The lawyers who duly deposit money in the welfare fund of the Bar Council or give money to the Associations without fail shall be considered for financial assistance. We are asking for the names after talking to the people in the Bar. Those who want to apply are being contacted by the Bar.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: Where will the money be given from?
Manan Kumar Mishra: We might plan out something from the welfare fund of the Bar Council. Or we may plan to give the funds to all Bar Associations. Government should also consider giving financial assistance to needy lawyers in these crucial times. Many lawyers are not able to say in shame but the fact is that they are not able to run their houses during this lockdown. It is requested that the Prime Ministers takes appropriate steps to ease the livelihood of lawyers who are in utter distress owing to this lockdown. It may also be noted that there are no benefits for lawyers from the government, no insurance is also given.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: The budget passed by the government due to the corona virus pandemic had no mention of the distressed lawyers. What are your views on that?
Manan Kumar Mishra: We hoped that the government would do something. The Finance Minister had stated that lawyers shall be considered, but surprisingly, the government has completely excluded the lawyers from availing any benefit amid lockdown. There are many schemes for general people. A lawyer should have also been included in it. As such nothing is being done for the lawyers.
LSJ Editor Kshipra Srivastava: Did you receive any reply to your letter?
Manan Kumar Mishra: Not yet.
BCI President Manan Kumar Mishra in conversation with LawStreet Journal.
Mr. Mishra’s dedication to improving the welfare of Lawyers has been inspiring. Despite Mr. Mishra’s plea to help lawyers in this crucial time of distress, no action has been taken by the Government. Mr. Mishra remains hopeful that the government would do something for the welfare of lawyers.