While hearing the suo moto case on the issue of financially weak Advocates and their clerks, the Allahabad High Court on Monday made certain crucial remarks about the status and welfare of Advocates' Clerks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma noted the importance of a "professional class" of the Advocates' Clerks in the justice delivery system and remarked that their "service conditions" should be regularized like any other professional service.
"True it is, Advocate Clerks are not in employment of the Court, but utility of their functioning in Court office is well established and well recognized. The service rendered by the Advocate Clerks is not a service to an individual but to the system by a class of professionals attached with Advocates.
…We have also seen in our day to day functioning that an Advocate's Clerk plays a vital role in the court management, though he is not an employee of the court. The profession of the Advocates' Clerks, thus, certainly deserves to be recognized in line of the other profession like Advocates, Chartered Accountants, Doctors, Nursing, etc," the court remarked.
While leaving this issue at the State government's disposal, the court directed the Registrar General of the High Court to initiate the process of registering Advocate Clerks in accordance with the Allahabad High Court Advocates Clerks (Registration of Advocates Clerks) Rules, 1997 forthwith. These Rules prescribe a complete procedure for their registration, their duties towards office of the court and the cancellation of registration in certain eventualities.
The court also made note of the provisions made by several State Legislatures to regulate their service conditions.
The Kerala Advocates' Clerks Welfare Fund Act, 2003 the High Court noted, was enacted by the Kerala Government for constitution of a welfare fund for benefit of Advocates' Clerks. Under this Act, a Fund has been established to ensure welfare of the Advocates' Clerks.
Similarly, in the State of Orissa also The Orissa Advocates' Clerks Welfare Fund Act, 2008 is in operation and that too provides Advocates welfare fund and several other amenities to the Advocates' Clerks.
A similar kind of enactment is in existence in the State of Andhra Pradesh in the name of The Andhra Pradesh Advocates' Welfare Fund Act, 1987. Pertinently, the Rules of the Gauhati High Court enacted under the Assam High Court Order 1948 also provide several protections to the Advocates' Clerks.
The High Court has directed the Registrar General to initiate the process of registering Advocate Clerks in accordance with the Allahabad High Court Advocates Clerks (Registration of Advocates Clerks) Rules, 1997 forthwith.
Court has also requested all the designated Senior Advocates and the Advocates in the State of Uttar Pradesh having adequate resources to assist the Bar Associations to which they are members for extending a helping hand to the Advocate Clerks.
Finally the bench has requested the State Government to examine viability to have an enactment for welfare of the registered Advocate Clerks working in different courts in the State of Uttar Pradesh
Through this order, the High Court has also passed detailed directions for providing financial assistance to needy advocates affected by COVID-19 and Lockdown.
The matter is now listed for May 5.
Last month, in connection to a case pertaining to security of court premises, the High Court had ordered all the Advocates' Clerks to register themselves with the concerned Advocates.
Case Title: In Re - Assistance To The Needy Advocates And Registered Advocate Clerks
Case No.: PIL 569/2020
Quorum: Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddhartha Varma
Click Here To Download Order