Practicing Lawyers are Now Shackled in Doldrums Because of Covid-19

*This many numbers i.e. 24000 of lawyers under the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, out of which 5000 newcomers, have succumbed for Covid-19 Pandemic in the northeastern states of India alone.*

*By Shahnaz Islam*
[The author is Gauhati High Court advocate, freelance writer and a poet.]

Lawyer’s dilemma in India didn’t ease even in the so-called post unlock COVID-19 condition. The doldrums continues in the country, when it is trying to catch fire of sufferings and loss of hopes over all professions. The debacle is same in all Government and private sectors.

Most of the practicing lawyers are into the ether of darkness and out of dearth of luminiferous in their lives. The situation here is no less than a desert, not only the advocacy profession but almost all sectors are facing vicious lore – no service, no money because of the novel coronavirus lockdown. The whole mankind, in securing the necessities of life, have drowned in its pace. Everything seems to be freezed and no movement.

Unfortunately, the ferocious Covid-19 is a bizarre storm in the lives of every individual, no matter whom we are by wealth or in identity. This many numbers i.e. 24000 of lawyers under the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, out of which 5000 newcomers, have succumbed for Covid-19 Pandemic in the northeastern states of India alone. Every profession or business is at the verge of slippage. The Novel Coronavirus has dampened the Bar Association and risks the lives of lawyers and the linking tenebrous life of the shells. The place and the desks over here, once known for its busyness and over populated hustle bustle with the masses of advocates and clients, is now calmed and ill-fated. This has been the sole place of worship for many, where umpteen number of advocates from various districts have been celebrating their advocacy life and they have been earning their daily bread, is emptied now like a ghost-house and the advocates are terribly suffering to sustain each single day for their livelihood.

This advocacy profession is so stately and dignified in manner that an advocate himself can’t express his own penury state open up like a needy or an indigent person does. The stale lives will kill the advocates, before the virus reaches them.

The Gauhati High Court Bar Association (GHCBA) in representation of Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court is appealing for the reopening of physical courts and their functioning to the fulfilment. The prayers are so far unanswered and the things grooved only under the control of Covid-19.

Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, the Chairman of the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim manifested his downcast thoughts and all the pains and miseries that the entire fraternity is facing due to the Pandemic surge. Nothing but all are helpless and only craving for the tints of amber may soon touche in everyone’s lives. On 13 August 2020, when he set for a sit-in-demonstration requesting for the utmost resumption of Physical Court sooner for the help of the lawyers; his act cherished the whole fraternity and represented their dire needs.

Article 267 of the Constitution of India clearly states that the Parliament and the State Legislatives to establish a contingency fund in order to meet “unforeseen expenditure”, why then the PM CARES fund which has over Rs 9,677.9 crore is still virgin in its silk linen treasuries and untouched for the grant of relief delivery for mitigating the hardships of the advocates in India?

Meanwhile, several state bar councils have tapped their coffers to help the enrolled advocates with a share of pity amount of 5000 rupees only. How far these 5000 rupees will serve their necessities?

Prolong to the crises of the advocates which is mushrooming day by day because of no regular physical court functioning and being unable to equilibrium the expectations of this profession vis-à-vis homely needs, the common lawyers are at odd. Existing networking and infrastructure is either partly or fully broken or at least damaged due to Covid-19. Clients are unable to reach their lawyers fondly with the failure of new adaptability around the provinces these days. This not only created a havoc scenario but also lacked and declined copious number of cases in the court.

Previously the Gauhati High Court was hearing 500 cases per day in its 20 courts; now the ratio is only 30 to 40 cases daily. The income of the lawyers in lower courts basically runs through filing of fresh cases and hearing matters; but due to shut down of courts, days are becoming very crucial and merciless. No clients, no fresh filing, no hearing and no advocate fees.

Moreover, the matters which are being taken over to the video conferencing are too time consuming, not very portable and not very well to do connectivity of the internet and make face to face solid arguments like unlock periods. There is no aorta of doubt that advocates are trying very hard to muffle up themselves into the new season, brought by the Covid-19. However, it is becoming tough, rather very tough to cope with the situation.

The thought of suffering itself shreds the heart apart but it also provides to acquire the greatest lesson of one’s life that “it is only hardship that makes a man worth living his life”. If everything was so easy just like sipping a cup of latte then what would have contributed to the meaning of life? The changes or how the Covid-19 has reshuffled everyone’s life is a challenge to the whole humanity. How to make sustainability and reflect upon your deeds and means as a human being; accept this change and learn to grow by sculpting the courses of this giant shift in disguise, are just some of the obvious lessons for all of us.

M Qaisar Siddiqui is a young journalist and editor at Millat Times