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Delhi HC defers hearing on plea seeking inclusion of advocates for MSME welfare schemes

The Counsel appearing for the Government of India informed the Bench that such similar petition was filed earlier and it was dismissed by this High Court.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday deferred hearing to July 4 on a plea, which sought directions to amend the restrictive criteria of defining the term “professional”, in order to include the Profession of Advocates for accessing the welfare schemes of the Government of India, under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.

Advocate Abhijit Mishra appeared on behalf of the petitioner and submitted that advocates are not getting loans for purchase of the equipment such as laptops, printer and scanner, for accessing the E-Courts and also the Government of India has not introduced any development schemes for the welfare of the Advocates.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked, “So you want Advocates to be included in the definition of Professionals?”

Mishra replied, “No milords, I pray that advocates should be included in the development and promotional schemes under the aegis of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.”

The Counsel appearing for the Government of India informed the Bench that such similar petition was filed earlier and it was dismissed by this High Court.

The Bench then said, “We are not issuing notice in this case right now, and we will take this matter for hearing on 4th of July.”

The plea filed by Advocate Abhijeet Mishra seeks the following prayer:-
• Kindly amend the arbitrary, biased and restrictive criteria of defining the term ‘Professional,’ in order to include the Profession of Advocates for accessing the welfare schemes of the Government of India under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006;
• Kindly direct the Department of Financial Services to develop banking products and schemes in consultation with Respondent No. 4 i.e. Bar Council of India for the welfare of the Advocates;
• Kindly direct the Reserve Bank of India to issue guidelines or instructions or notification to the banks to collateral free loans, credit facilities and schemes under aegis of Section 20 of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 in consultation with Respondent No. 4 i.e. Bar Council of India for the welfare of the Advocates;
• Kindly direct the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India to develop professional development schemes in consultation with Respondent No. 4 i.e. Bar Council of India for the welfare of the Advocates;
• Kindly direct Bar Council of India to initiate digital adoption training programs for the Advocates for embracing digital technology for the administration of justice;
• Kindly direct Bar Council of India to develop online training programs, code of conduct for the Advocates and litigants for online / virtual hearing before the Honourable Courts.

The plea is challenging the criteria to access the developmental and promotional schemes under the aegis of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006. It is submitted that of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India has developed a highly arbitrary eligibility criteria, which is highly biased and restrictive towards the profession of Advocates, it added.

The plea further submitted that the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India in its response under the Right to Information Act has stated that it does not even considers the Advocates as eligible professionals for accessing the progressive schemes of the Government of India.

“Prejudiced eligibility criteria of having GSTN, Business PAN, TAN as mandatory requirement in order to be eligible to access the development schemes of the Government of India is against the welfare of the Advocates,” the plea stated.

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