The advocates have stayed behind as a disarranged segment despite the fact that the legal occupation persisted for more than years. The recompense of pension, welfare account, benefits of retirement etc was not settled for these professionals. The lawyers were not benefited with any other saving strategies or investments. Currently the lawyers are perfectly dependent on the profession for making their lives. The flimsy efforts progressed only after 1980 for granting assured help to the family of lawyers subsequent to his death.
The Advocate’s Welfare Fund Act, 2001 is a central legislation which endeavors to systematize welfare fund for the lawyers. The application of the Act extends to the Indian Territory as a whole and excludes the states which provide welfare facilities earlier. The Act contains seven chapters, thirty eight sections and one schedule. The authority in charge shall constitute welfare fund for advocates and the fund shall be collected by or paid to authorized agency. The fund includes contribution from State Bar Councils, voluntary payment or contribution by Bar Councils or lawyers, allowance from the government, amount from insurance company, investment returns, stamp duty etc.
The Act empowers the concerned authority to establish a Trustee Committee including Advocate General, Secretary to Law Department and Home Department etc. All the members of the Committee shall continue in his office for a period of three years. The Committee shall control the funds and assets, collect submissions for entrance to the fund, collect application for payment of the amount, send reports to the authorities etc. the Committee is entrusted with the power to borrow funds from the Bar Councils and to invest the fund in a Scheduled bank.
The Act obliges the State Councils to remit twenty percent from the fee collected for enrolment under the Advocates Act, 1961. A list of members admitted to the fund shall be send by the state bar association to the State Councils. The association shall inform the council regarding change in membership, death or suspension of members. The practicing lawyer who is a member of a Bar Association can apply to the trustee committee for becoming a member of Advocates Fund. The advocate shall become a member of the fund after an inquiry by the trustee committee. The fee payable for the application is two hundred rupees and annual subscription of fifty rupees, which is to be remitted in account of the committee. The non payment of annual subscription will lead to cancellation of membership. The committee is empowered to evaluate its on orders if an application is acknowledged in this connection. The remitted amount in the fund shall be repaid to the member having five years of standing, if he ceases to practice. The amount shall be payable to the nominee or legal representative of the member in case of his death. The fund remitted by a member cannot be transferred, alienated or attached for any reason whatsoever.
The fund remitted in the Welfare account is free from income tax proceedings. The State Bar Council is empowered to hear appeals from the orders of the trustee committee and the verdict of the council is absolute. A stamp shall be attached on all vakalatnama filed by an advocate before any court. The non compliance with this provision will lead to termination of membership. The Act expressly rules out the jurisdiction of courts of civil nature from deciding disputes under the Act. The Act also envisages power on the Central and State Government to frame rules to comply with terms of legislation.
The Advocate’s Welfare Act was the end result of constant claim from lawyers to build a beneficial welfare mechanism and the government’s contribution to the machinery. Hence, the Government formulated a plan for temporary fund which could not succeed due to compulsion from the authorities to join the fund. As a result, a central legislation was acted out to protect the rights of lawyers through a welfare scheme which proved to be a successful mission.