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Delhi High Court Appeals Senior Lawyers To Pay 'Dignified' Stipend To Juniors

Nupur Thapliyal
23 Sep 2022 3:37 PM GMT
Delhi High Court Appeals Senior Lawyers To Pay Dignified Stipend To Juniors
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The Delhi High Court has appealed to the senior lawyers in legal profession to ensure that stipend paid to their juniors is enough for them to overcome the financial stress and to lead a more dignified life.

"This Court also makes an appeal to seniors in this profession to ensure that the stipend that is paid to their juniors is enough for their juniors to evade the financial stress that accompanies this profession and allows them to lead a more dignified life," said the court.

The division bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramon Prasad added that senior lawyers must be more mindful about the financial background of their juniors and called for an empathetic approach considering the "virtuosity of legal profession".

"At the outset, it becomes pertinent to note that, unfortunately, young professionals in all fields, be it from Medicine, Chartered Accountancy, Architecture and Engineering etc., face problems that are similar to the ones being faced by young advocates. Job opportunities are scarce and persons competing for these limited job opportunities are far too many which makes the competition arduous and the services of an individual dispensable," the Court said.

The court made the observations while dismissing a PIL filed by a young lawyer working with a senior counsel. The petition highlighted the difficulties faced by newly enrolled advocates, who are unable to sustain themselves in the national capital due to low pay.

It was the petitioner's case that young lawyers are unable to arrange for their accommodation, food, travelling and other expenses due to lack of proper and consistent source of income.

Accordingly, a direction was sought to the Bar Council or India and the Bar Council of Delhi for providing a financial assistance of Rs. 5000 to the newly enrolled advocates during the initial years of practice.

While noting that the petitioner highlighted the problems faced by the young lawyers enrolled in legal profession, the Court took judicial notice of the fact that such young counsels face immense difficulties in sustaining themselves owing to the high cost of living in the national capital.

"It is indeed very difficult for young advocates to bear expenses for the purposes of accommodation food, and travelling expenses. This Court also takes note of the fact that many of these youngsters either do not get paid by their seniors or the salaries that are paid to them are so meagre that it barely covers the cost of living in a metropolitan city," the Court said.

It added "Many of these young advocates, if fortunate enough, either have to depend on their families to meet day-to-day expenses or are reduced to a state whereby they are forced to take up more lucrative and feasible job offers. This is indeed a sorry state of affairs of a noble profession whose dynamics end up excluding those with less financial resources as compared to their privileged counter parts."

However, the Court observed that Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be stretched to encompass in itself a right of an Advocate to claim a monthly stipend from Bar Associations.

"It is for the Bar Councils to make provisions to provide some kind of financial assistance so that the young advocates, who are the future of this noble profession, are able to sustain themselves. Other than making an earnest appeal to the Bar Council of Delhi and the Bar Council of India to make provisions for providing stipends to the young advocates, who have recently enrolled themselves in the profession, so that they can overcome the financial stress in the initial years of practice, this Court cannot pass a writ of mandamus directing them to mandatorily provide stipends to the young advocates," the Court said.

While dismissing the plea, the Court also appealed to the Bar Councils or Associations of the country to be more sensitive to the difficulties of the younger lawyers and to consider providing them some specified space which can be utilised by them.

Title: PANKAJ KUMAR v. BAR COUNCIL OF DELHI AND ORS

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 902

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