May 25, 2018 06:01 PM

Chandigarh (Subhash Jindal)

Punjab and Haryana Highcourt issue notices to States of Punjab and Haryana, and also to Punjab/Haryana State Legal Services Authority-in a PIL seeking formation of a scheme for providing legal aid to litigants of middle income group at affordable rates through specially empanelled Counsels:

A division Bench of the HC comprising ACJ and Justice T.S. Dhindsa today issued notices to States of Punjab and Haryana, and also to Punjab/Haryana State Legal Services Authority for 3.8.2018 -in a PIL filed by Advocate Hari Chand seeking issuance of appropriate directions to the respondents for directing them to set up “Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society” in the States of Punjab and Haryana on the pattern of similar Society called “Supreme Court Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society”, which is functioning in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, and/or the Society called “Jharkhand High Court Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society”, operating in the Hon’ble High Court of Jharkhand to providing legal aid at concession rates to the middle income group litigants

In his PIL, the petitioner-advocate has stated that while poor litigants are being given free legal aid by the Punjab/Haryana State Legal Services Authority, for filing cases in the High Court, the litigants belonging to middle income group can not afford to meet the expenses of litigation, which are increasing day by day in the absence of any cap on the maximum fee to be charged by the Advocates. The persons from middle age group also cannot, even in their wildest imagination, afford to engage a Senior Advocate. Thus, they are also required to be extended the facility of capable Advocates at affordable Counsels’ fees. 

The petitioner has stated that the Society formed in Chhatisgarh High Court caters to the needs of litigants with annual income upto Rs.6 lakhs, at aggregate fee of Rs.20 thousand for the entire case, the Society at Supreme Court meets the needs of litigants with annual income upto Rs.7.5 lakhs, at aggregate fee of Rs.25 thousand for the entire case. He therefore, argued that similar societies should be set up in Punjab and Haryana High Court also for the litigants appearing in this High Court also. As per the aforesaid schemes, the litigant has to give his option for any three empanelled advocates, upon which the concerned Society tries to allot him a Counsel of his choice.

The petitioner had earlier sent legal notices to respondents on 26.4.2018, and prior to that, he had sent a representation to the then Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar also on 22.1.2017, calling upon them to set up such society for litigants of middle income group, but he did not receive any response from any of them.

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