Kerala High Court came down heavily on the Bar Council of Kerala over its inaction to act upon the Government order issued in 2018. The order had sanctioned the stipend of Rs 5,000/ month for junior lawyers.
Single judge bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan gave two months to the state government and Bar Council to submit its reply.
The High Court bench said, “There are lawyers in Kerala who don’t have even ₹1,000 and have to run tea stalls. There are lawyers who I know personally who sell tea to survive. The government passed an order to provide them a small amount but these people(Bar Council) couldn’t amend and frame a rule.”
“Why don’t I issue an order that these people are not eligible to continue on the Council? It has been more than three years. I’m told that they have built a new guest house spending crores of rupees but they couldn’t find money to pay poor advocates?” said Justice Kunhikrishnan.
The bench expressed its disappointment over the inaction of the Bar Council for not implementing the GO which was issued in 2018.
“The GO is dated March 2018. This is a statutory matter which they took 5 months to decide. First proposal to amend rules came in august 2018, 5 months later. The elected committee came in January 2019. Rule committee with three lawyers was constituted only in May 2019. They submitted a report immediately but this was forwarded only in July 2020,” said the bench.
In response, Additional Advocate General Ashok Cherian cited the lack of sufficient resources as the reason. He further submitted that a sum of around ₹36 crores would be required per annum to implement the government order.
Dissatisfied with the submission, the bench questioned, “they have funds to build a new guest house, not to provide a small sum to young lawyers?”
Senior advocate Gracious Kuriakose, representing the Bar Council of Kerala submitted that the rules have already been framed and submitted before the government.
“Even though I am not satisfied by the way in which the Bar Council of Kerala proceeded after the GO was issued, I record submissions of the counsels,” the bench said.
After a counsel requested to consider the matter part-heard, Justice Kunikrishanan stated, “Why are we sitting here as judges if we cannot understand the plight of our junior lawyers. They are the future of the judiciary. All 42 judges of this Court are concerned with this matter. All are on the side of junior lawyers. No need to be part-heard.”
The matter has now been posted for December 20, 2021.