Rajasthan High Court recently dismissed a challenge by a Society of Retired Judges, against provisions of Rajasthan Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act which denies payment of Advocates Welfare Fund to a person who gets himself enrolled or resumes as an Advocate after serving under any employer for a period of not less than fifteen years.
The contention canvassed by the Retired Judges’ Society was that, a constitutional obligation is cast on the State not to deny any person or citizen equality before law and equal protection of the law as embodied u/Art.14 of the Constitution of India and amending Section 18(2) prohibits such advocate who has resumed or enrolled himself after serving any employer for a period not less than 15 years and such classification introduced by the legislation is arbitrary and not reflects the real or substantive distinction and it should be formally founded on an intelligible differentia and since amending notification does not fulfil the requirement as mandated by Art.14 of the Constitution of India it violates principles of equality and discrimination and deserves to be declared violative of Art.14 of the Constitution and be struck down.
Dismissing the Judgment, in the light of Apex Court decision in S. Seshachalam & Ors. Vs. Chairman, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu And Ors., the Bench comprising of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Jainendra Kumar Ranka said “The association who has approached this Court is formed by the former judicial officers and who have served for more than 15 years are entitled to pension, gratuity and all other terminal benefits under the relevant Rules and keeping the object of the Rajasthan Act 1987 for which detailed reference has been made and taking note of what has been observed by the Apex Court in the judgment referred to supra the question which is raised for our consideration in the instant petition does not hold good and deserves outright rejection.”
In December 2014, the Supreme Court in Seshachalam and Others vs. Chairman Bar Council of TN had upheld the Madras High Court Judgment which held that “there is reasonable classification between the advocates who had set up practice after demitting their office from the Central/State Government/Organization and advocates who have set up practice straight from the law college the retired officials who joined legal profession constitute a separate class and the disentitlement of the benefit of lump sum welfare fund to this group of advocates cannot be said to be unreasonable.”
Read the Judgment here.