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'Lawyers Can't Be Made To Starve': Kerala HC Pulls Up Bar Council Of Kerala For Delay In Implementing 2018 Govt Order On Stipend For Junior Lawyers [Read Petition]

13 May 2020 2:57 AM GMT
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday came down heavily upon the State Bar Council for "grave delay" in implementation of 2018 Government order whereby sanction was accorded to pay monthly stipend of Rs.5000/- to the junior lawyers.

"The government order was issued in 2018. We are in 2020 now… Lawyers can't be made to starve," the single-Judge bench of Justice P. Gopinath remarked while directing the opposite counsel to get instructions on the matter.

Vide order dated March 9, 2018, the Kerala Government had sanctioned monthly stipend of Rs.5000/- for junior lawyers of a specified category, payable out of the Welfare Fund created under Kerala Advocate's Welfare Fund Act, 1980.

Three Advocates including Dheeraj Ravi, President of Kollam Bar Association  have moved the High Court on Tuesday, seeking implementation of the same.

"The Government in its wisdom has proceeded to consider the same and passed Ext.P2 G.O to support the younger generation of legal fraternity but the lethargy in implementing the same has failed the purpose. Due to the same, the novices of legal profession are face grim future especially due to the lock down after Covid-19 and its repercussions in the economic sphere of the Country," the Petitioners had submitted.

The Petitioner's counsel, Advocate Manu Ramachandran had pointed out that the Council had not brought in any rules or formulated any modus including the application form prescribed by the Kerala Advocate's Welfare Fund Trustee Committee, to start the process.

Responding to this, Standing Counsel for the State Bar Council informed the Court that they had framed rules but the same was returned by the Government.

While the Petitioner had sought interim relief of directing the Bar Council to consider and pass orders on all applications seeking stipend, the Court was pleased to grant time to the Standing Counsel to seek instructions from the Bar.

However, the High Court made it clear that it will not grant any further extension of time for filing of a statement.

The present petition also claims that many lawyers had approached the Bar Council as well as the Trustee Committee seeking application forms and other procedures and guidance to apply for stipend. However, the Respondents sent all of them back them with a direction to "wait till they have formulated their own Rules and procedure."

The matter has now been posted to May 18.

As per the Government order, junior lawyers who have not completed 3 years of practice and an age of 30 years and are not having annual income of more than Rs.1 lakhs are entitled for stipend.

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