Struggling junior lawyers without stipend forced to run tea stalls but Bar Council builds new guesthouse

The Kerala High Court on Monday took strong exception to the lack of action on the part of the Bar Council of Kerala in implementing a Government Order(GO) issued in March 2018, which had sanctioned payment of ₹5,000 per month as stipend for junior lawyers (Adv. Dheeraj Ravi v. State of Kerala & Ors.)

Single judge Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, while hearing a plea to implement the GO expeditiously especially in light of the adverse effect of the pandemic on junior lawyers’ livelihoods, highlighted the plight of junior lawyers in the State who are languishing with little to no pay.

“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,” the Court said.

The judge minced no words while pulling up the members of the Bar Council of Kerala for offering excuses for not doing the needful to frame rules to implement the GO despite 3 years having lapsed.

“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?”

The Court expressed its disappointment at the delay in framing the necessary rules to implement the Government Order, which it noted had been issued three years ago in March, 2018.

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