SC dismisses plea seeking ex-gratia for kin of deceased lawyers

"This is a publicity interest litigation and just because you are in black coat does not mean your life is more precious than others," the bench observed, adding, "We must not encourage lawyers to file bogus PILs."

The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking directions to the Centre and others to pay Rs 50 lakh ex-gratia to kin of advocates who have died within 60 years whether due to COVID-19 or other reasons, saying life of lawyers cannot be said to be “more precious” than others.

Observing that it cannot encourage filing of “bogus” public interest litigation (PIL) by lawyers, a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said the plea is a “publicity interest litigation” and not a single relevant ground has been raised in it.

The bench, also comprising Justices Vikram Nath and B V Nagarathna, said several people have died due to COVID-19 in the country and there is already a judgement passed by the apex court dealing with framing of guidelines for disbursement of compensation to kin of those who have died as a result of coronavirus.

“Are other people of the society not important,” the bench told advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav, who had filed the petition.

“This is a publicity interest litigation and just because you are in black coat does not mean your life is more precious than others,” the bench observed, adding, “We must not encourage lawyers to file bogus PILs.”

The top court, which observed that “cut-copy-paste” has been done in the plea, said it would not happen that lawyers will file PIL like this to demand compensation and the court will allow it.

It said several people have died of COVID-19 and lawyers cannot be an exception.

Yadav requested the bench that he will withdraw the plea and file it with better grounds.

The bench, however, dismissed the petition with a cost of Rs 10,000 payable to the Supreme Court Bar Association within a week.

In his plea, Yadav had arrayed the Centre, Bar Council of India and several other bar bodies as respondents.

The petition had sought directions to the respondents to pay ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh to the kin of advocate, who have died within 60 years whether from COVID-19 or any other manner, and in cases of pandemic, additional monetary help be provided to them.

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