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Lawyers experience hardship amid Covid pandemic

Published : 05 Aug 2021 09:48 PM | Updated : 06 Aug 2021 02:38 AM

As a result of Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of lawyers in Bangladesh, like people of some other sectors, are now in difficulties. They are experiencing hardship and a loss of income due to lockdown which was enforced to curb the spread and transmission of the deadly virus.

 The lawyers in both the higher court and the lower courts in the country have seen their incomes disappear almost overnight.

“I can’t contact my clients during the lockdown. However, it is my only income source. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, I was earning an above-average income. Now the income has been lost. Against this backdrop, I am passing days in very hardship,” said a lawyer of Sylhet.

Barrister Ruhul Quddus Kajal, secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), said that majority of lawyers across the country are experiencing financial crisis due to the Covid-19 situation as the regular activities of the court are not functioning. “Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain convened a full court meeting on Thursday afternoon. We expect a solution following the meeting,” he said.    

 Taj Mohammad Sheikh, a lawyer of the Supreme Court and a former District and Sessions Judge, said that the lawyers across the country haven’t had an income for almost one and half years since Covid-19 situation began. “I have been in the legal profession for 13 years after retiring from the position of district judge. Everything was going well. But everything has stopped because of Covid-19 outbreak. Now there is no client. So, we have no income. Why would the client come? The client will pay when he sees that the court has started through video conference or the functioning of the normal court begins,” he said.

 There are about 8,000 lawyers enrolled in the High Court. “There are probably a maximum of one thousand lawyers who are financially solvent. How will the rest seven thousand lawyers run their families without income,” said Taj Mohammad Sheikh.

Against this backdrop, lawyers demanded opening of all the High Court benches virtually, while they also demanded functioning of lower courts across the country. Otherwise, it would be difficult for the lawyers to survive, said Mujahid Shahin, a lawyer of Dhaka. 

 Addressing Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, he said, “We, the lawyers, don’t get any salary. We receive fee from clients for providing legal assistance. The lawyers’ families survive on this fee. This is the reality of the legal profession. Our situation is so bad that we usually try not to let outsiders know about the hardship. Please, open all the courts, save the lawyers.”

 Not only the lawyers, litigants and a number of prisoners are also experiencing sufferings due to limited functioning of court. Many innocent prisoners can’t get out even on bail. So, the lawyers called upon the Chief Justice to open all the courts even through video conferencing, considering the sufferings of the litigants and the prisoners.

 In this situation, SCBA secretary Barrister Ruhul Quddus Kajal talked to Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain over telephone on Wednesday and requested him to constitute separate benches for an early bail hearing in the High Court.

 “I told the Chief Justice that common people are being harassed in various ways. That is why it is important to keep the anticipatory bail open and open all the virtual benches,” said the SCBA secretary.

 Ruhul Quddus Kajal said that the Chief Justice replied, “I don't make any decision alone. He assured me that he would take decision on the issue after discussing it with the judges at the full court meeting on Thursday (August 5),” he added.