Hyderabad: In view of the increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases in Telangana, it has been more than five months since the Telangana High Court has restricted its functioning and that of other courts to urgent matters only. The latest restriction was extended till August 14, 2020, which has left lawyers, depending on day-to-day hearing, in a lurch. Many of them are in search of new jobs and are looking for opportunities in different sectors.

The High Court of Telangana had issued a notification for suspension of regular judicial work in the High Court, subordinate courts, tribunals, etc. in the state till August 14. Only hearing of matters which are urgent in the civil, criminal and family courts will be taken up through online filing or physical filing. The courts of Telangana have been functioning this way for the last five months.

“We are fully dependent on day to day hearing. As a junior advocate, I earn

Rs 20,000 - 30,000 per month when the courts function normally and when we are physically present at the court and do the filing of cases by ourselves. For the last five months, I have been at home, not earning a single penny and if the situation continues to be the same, our life will become pathetic. I’ve been practising for five years and this is the worst phase of my life. I do not understand why the government which has reopened many of the sectors, is still continuing to impose restrictions on the courts. For the last five months, we have got only a one-time compensation of Rs 10,000 from the Bar Council. Except that there was no help and that small amount is not even sufficient to pay two-month rent of our house. Our earning has stopped totally but house rents, school fees, EMIs are being levied as usual. We are barely able to make both ends meet,” added Maram Sravanthi, an advocate from Hastinapur speaking to NewsMeter.

“I have been in this profession for the past 20 years. Not only junior advocates, but even senior advocates are facing the heat of the pandemic as the court is not functioning on a regular basis. Our earning has stopped but we still have to pay the rents of our offices, current bills for the offices. I didn't even apply for the one-time waiver that the government has given as it is a very small amount and will help us in no way. In the last five months, I was able to file only one case physically and I dropped it in a box in the court. The case will be looked into after two days of putting in the dropbox and will be taken up based on the urgency. Even for e-filing after the case is filed online, a link will be provided which will be received through a message and the hearing will be done through WhatsApp video call and all the petitioners might not be able to have that facility,” added a senior advocate from Telangana.

“More than 70% of the advocates that I know depend on day-to-day hearing and can earn only if the courts function. Since the beginning, we have been practising law in the courts and we know that alone. Many of my colleagues have applied as legal advisors for chit fund companies but due to the pandemic, even those companies have stopped hiring. We cannot even practice under a senior advocate as they themselves are in distress,” added Roja Ramani, an advocate from Vanasthalipuram.

One advocate, on condition of anonymity, told NewsMeter that he was unable to continue living without a penny and took up catering business to make a living.

“I have been practising for the last 3 years and I was happy that as a woman, I was independent and making some money. Since the pandemic broke out, I have been at home and am again depending on my parents for money. I do not see any hope to begin practising again,” added a junior advocate from Hyderabad.

Ashish Bhosale

Ashish.B is currently working as a reporter at Newsmeter. He has previously worked with Fever 94.3 FM as a Programming Producer. Alumni from The University of Hyderabad in Mass Communication & Journalism. He has also interned with Central Forensic Science Laboratory in (Crime investigative photography) and Doordarshan. He has completed a diploma in Criminology and Forensic science and has a good understanding of studying crime and criminal offences. Ashish loves to travel and tell real stories to people.

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