Srinagar: With an aim to outreach to the distressed lawyer’s community of the J&K and to bring the much-needed relief to them, the government has finally come up with the Jammu and Kashmir Advocates Welfare Fund scheme.
“This scheme for the first time will bring the social security to the advocate community, especially the advocates of Kashmir, who have suffered in the past and are deprived of the welfare schemes and grant by the government for one reason or the other,” said senior advocate and Senior Additional Advocate General of J&K Mohsin S Qadri.
“The new scheme aims at multiple outreaches to the lawyers of J&K although there would be a few exceptions like Mian Abdul Qayoom and his coterie of like-minded lawyers, who are known to have taken an anti-India stand and worked hand in gloves with the separatists in carrying anti-India activities,” a lawyer said.
According to the lawyer, who did not wish to be named, these lawyers controlled the Bar Association for a long period without any financial accountability.
“The funds they received were utilised for promoting secessionism and terrorism-related activities,” he said.
This welfare fund would be for the first time used for supporting the legal lawyer’s fraternity who are in distressed situations. This would be a social security step taken in furtherance of the advocates who remained deprived by any security of life and profession.
Now, all these advocates would be benefited by the welfare scheme.
“More importantly, this will eradicate the unlawful and illegal accumulation of funds by the self-styled lawyers in the name of selling ‘Vakalatnama’. These lawyers used to lease out government properties to third parties and indulge in unlawful funding using sinister elements and defend terrorists and their supporters in the court of law. This had also destroyed the careers of hundreds of advocates in the past,” the lawyer pleading anonymity said. He said that earlier all the costs and fine imposed by the court in the cases would also go into the account of the Bar Association, and thus a legally accrued huge amount would go into the association’s account, which in return was used for unlawful and censured purposes.
“This new scheme has the power to dent the system, push it into the right way and utilise the funds in a right way,” the lawyer said.
On January 5, Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Achal Sethi in an order issued the rules for the welfare fund committee, a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir.
As per the order, these rules have been called as Jammu & Kashmir Advocates Welfare Fund Rules, 2023.
It reads that the welfare committee would have a Secretary but provided that till Bar Council of Jammu and Kashmir is duly constituted, the powers of Secretary J&K Advocates Welfare Fund Trustee Committee should be exercisable by the Administrative Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
Explaining further, it said that the Secretary should collect all sums specified in sub section (2) of section 3 and deposit it in the bank account of Trustee Committee in a scheduled bank forthwith. The committee’s offices would be at Jammu and Srinagar as may be notified for the government.
Further, the order has explained about annual statement of accounts, preparation of budget estimates, annual report, meetings, maintenance of records and registers by Trustee Committee, application for recognition of an association of advocates, application for membership of fund, application for re-admission as a member of fund, certificate of membership, reduction of amount on failure to intimate removal or suspension, cessation of practise and payment, schemes for benefits of members of the fund, disposal of claims, appeal to the State Bar Council, value and designs of stamps, accounts of stamp and cancellation of stamps.
According to officials, the act provides financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for the advocates.
The trusteeship committee held its first meeting on October 13 and it was decided to frame rules for operationalisation of the Advocates Welfare Fund.
Taking to the Greater Kashmir, the lawyers called the welfare fund a historical decision, particularly for the young and first-generation lawyers.
“It was a long-pending demand of the advocates. Moreover, COVID-19 exposed the need and institutionalisation for a fund or a security net for lawyers. This legislation provides a security net in case of health issues and ex-gratia in case of death to secure the lives of lawyers and their dependents,” said Farhat Rashid, an advocate at J&K High Court.
“The Advocates Welfare Fund rules published recently are a step in the right direction which has institutionalised that much-needed security cover. It would go a long way towards the welfare of first-generation lawyers,” he said.
Jahangir Dar, an advocate at J&K High Court, said, “Indebted to LG’s administration is the least I should say. It has been a long wait for a vast majority of first-generation lawyers who come from far-off places and disadvantages backgrounds, fighting to establish themselves in different courts of state dominated by feudal lords of the profession. It is a prudent maneuver in the right direction which will liberate lawyers as well as the courts from the clutches of hopelessness and exploitation.”