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Judiciary

Madras HC directs TN, Puducherry to implement Lawyers' Welfare Schemes and ensure minimum pay for junior advocates [Read Order]

By Saket Sourav      10 June, 2024 12:03 PM      0 Comments
Madras HC directs TN Puducherry to implement Lawyers Welfare Schemes and ensure minimum pay for junior advocates

Madras: The Madras High Court recently directed the state governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to implement welfare schemes for lawyers and ensure that junior advocates are paid minimum stipends by seniors engaging their services.

A division bench comprising Justices S.M. Subramaniam and C. Kumarappan passed the order while hearing a petition filed by Farida Begam seeking enforcement of the Advocates' Welfare Fund Act, 2001 in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

During the hearing, the court noted with concern that around 200 applications from lawyers seeking benefits under Tamil Nadu's welfare fund scheme were pending before the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu (BCTN). Expressing displeasure over the delay, the bench observed, "Safeguarding the rights, privilege, and interest of the advocates is one of the functions of the State Bar Council."

The court also referred to Section 6 of the Advocates Act, 1961, which outlines the functions of the State Bar Councils. It stipulates that the councils are to 'safeguard the rights, privileges, and interests of advocates on its roll,' and Sub-clause (e) specifies the function to promote and support law reform.

"Extracting work without payment is an exploitation and directly in violation of the fundamental rights enshrined under the Constitution," the court said while referring to the problems faced by young lawyers in earning a livelihood.

It also emphasized that the BCTN must frame guidelines to ensure minimum stipends are paid when senior lawyers engage juniors. "Exploitation under no circumstances can be permitted nor be appreciated," the court stated.

Additionally, the court observed that the livelihood of these young brilliant lawyers, who have started their practice with a fond hope, must be encouraged by the senior lawyers, legal fraternity, and the courts.

On the issue of implementing the welfare scheme in Puducherry, the bench remarked, "There cannot be any discrimination amongst the members in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Uniformity is to be maintained in this regard." Noting that lawyers in Puducherry are enrolled with the BCTN, the court said, "It is needless to state that the legal practitioners in Puducherry courts are therefore eligible to avail the benefits under the welfare scheme."

The court also directed the Puducherry government to place all the facts before the Government and secure necessary instructions to extend financial contributions enabling the Bar Council to conduct the Welfare Scheme in accordance with the terms of the scheme.

Furthermore, the court impleaded the state government of Tamil Nadu as a party and stated that "Since large numbers of applications are pending as far as the State of Tamil Nadu is concerned, we are inclined to suo motu implead the Principal Secretary to Government (Finance) and Secretary (Law) as respondents."

In conclusion, the court posted the matter for further hearing on June 12 by directing the counsel appearing on behalf of the Bar Council to secure necessary instructions for framing guidelines/instructions for the advocates who have enrolled in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

[Read Order]



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