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Mandate Annual Pro Bono Work for Lawyers to Qualify for Relief Funds : Parliament Committee urges BCI

Mandate Annual Pro Bono Work for Lawyers to Qualify for Relief Funds : Parliament Committee urges BCI

On Wednesday, a Parliamentary Committee proposed that the Bar Council of India (BCI) ought to require every lawyer to engage in at least one pro bono case annually in order to qualify for any relief funds from the All India or State Bar Councils

"The Committee is also of the view that designated senior advocates in all High Courts and the Supreme Court may come together to form a panel for doing pro bono works and undertake such works," said the parliamentary panel, chaired by Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi.

The committee recommended that courts could incentivize advocates by issuing merit certificates based on their involvement in pro bono work. These certificates could then be used to evaluate their individual merits.

“The pro bono work done by a lawyer may be taken into consideration for assessing his or her merit when they apply for any judicial posts, law officers post including appointment of High Court Judges and Supreme Court judges, and the consideration of the designation of senior advocates," it said.

Furthermore, the committee suggested that the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) should ensure lawyers receive adequate compensation to sustain themselves and stay motivated in their profession. Additionally, it proposed establishing a robust system to monitor the effectiveness and accountability of legal aid services provided to beneficiaries.

The parliamentary committee praised the Legal Aid Defense Counsel Scheme (LADCS), highlighting it as a significant departure in the provision of legal aid within the country. This scheme, which employs full-time experienced lawyers dedicated solely to offering legal aid, assistance, and representation in criminal cases, is seen as a transformative initiative that will enhance the quality of legal aid provided to beneficiaries.

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