3,500 lawyers owe Rs 5.3 crore to Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar
As many as 27% lawyers registered with the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association (PHHCBA) have not paid their dues amounting to Rs 5. 37 crore to the association for more than two years now.
The revelation has forced the Bar to issue notices to these lawyers, asking them to pay up or loose membership. The Bar has 12,600 registered members, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, out of which 3,500 are being issued membership cancellation notices.
During the exercise, the Bar found 6,600 lawyers had not paid their dues for six months. However, Bar officials say they were not being served notices because many opt for annual payment. In some cases, the amount is over Rs 50,000, an official said.
What Bar charges
The Bar charges Rs 250 from junior lawyers and Rs 1,800 from senior lawyers per month. The amount was revised four months back from Rs 200 and Rs 1,500 respectively. The amount collected is spent on providing facilities, such as library and internet, paying water and electricity charges, salaries to 225 association employees and upkeep of two Bar room halls where seats have been allotted to lawyers.
Bar association secretary Baltej Singh Sidhu confirmed the development, stating the Bar is in the process of sending notices.
“It is being done for the welfare of lawyers. We need funds to create facilities and run existing ones efficiently. Our aim is to collect funds for the welfare of lawyers.”
The process to identify lawyers was started in June when the Bar found out that only 5,000-odd lawyers are participating in the elections but the number of registered members was 12,000.
Why don’t they pay
Among the reasons for not paying the fee, executive members say is the fact that some members were enrolled to win elections but are now practising in other courts.
“Some become members as those enrolled with the Bar get visa processed easily. But there are many who are enjoying all facilities without paying anything,” an official said.
What lawyers stand to lose
If a lawyer loses Bar membership, he will have to leave the chamber provided at the high court, won’t be allotted seat at two of the air-conditioned halls and will be deprived of other facilities, like library, offered to a registered member.
The member’s kin also stand to lose claim on Rs 3 lakh provided by the Bar on a lawyer’s death.
Also, though yet to be implemented, those from outside will soon need a registered lawyer to file a case in the HC. The proposal is under consideration.