New Delhi, April 21: A plea filed before the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday stated that lawyers, who have been struggling to make ends meet because of lack of income due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus disease, be exempted from the payment of monthly rent for their office spaces till the restrictions are lifted.

The petitioner, advocate Aljo Joseph, who is an advocate-on-record at the apex court, cited that courts have not been functioning since the lockdown – initially enforced for 21 days on March 25 and then further extended till May 3 – came into effect. Most lawyers are facing an acute cash crunch, as they earn their livelihood on a case-to-case basis, he said, as reported by The Hindustan Times.

“The majority of the advocates have not been able to earn any money during this lockdown period. They are finding maintaining their office premises without any income for months a Herculean task,” the petition, filed through advocates Sriram Parakkat and Sachin Sharma, said.

Joseph submitted that though many state governments and the Centre have announced schemes for benefit of the poor and the needy to tide over the economic crisis triggered by Covid-19, no such financial aid has been offered for lawyers’ benefit as yet.

“The government ordered several directives and declared a moratorium and financial assistance to different sectors and class of people. But no policy has been announced by the government to support the hardship faced by the professionals, especially lawyers, to date,” the plea said.

Lawyers, the petition claimed, are left with no other option but to pay monthly rent for their office spaces even when they have neither work nor income.

“The government must issue a directive that the advocates and other professionals are exempted from paying monthly rent of their office premises during the lockdown period,” the petitioner urged. The case is yet to come for hearing.

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