The Chhattisgarh High Court recently sought responses from the Government of Chhattisgarh, the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Chhattisgarh State Bar Council in a public interest litigation (PIL) calling for monthly stipend for junior advocates [Sana Meman and Another v. State of Chhattisgarh and Others].
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Gautam Chourdiya issued notice on a plea moved by advocate Sana Meman and Siddhant Das, a final-year law student.
“Issue notice, returnable in 10 weeks,” the Court stated in its order.
The petitioner sought directions to the State of Chhattisgarh and the State Bar Council to frame suitable rules/ schemes regarding payment of monthly stipend to junior advocates.
Advocates have to pay ₹16,000 to the State Bar Council for registration, yet there exists no provision in terms of stipend benefits for the welfare of advocates during their initial practice, the plea pointed out. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the condition of junior advocates has only worsened, it stated.
Various High Courts across the country including those at Bombay, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have already directed the respective authorities to provide monetary assistance to junior lawyers, the plea read.
In December last year, the Bar Council of Kerala notified rules for payment of stipend of upto ₹ 5,000 per month to lawyers with less than three years’ practice at the Bar and having an annual income not exceeding ₹1 lakh.
To be eligible for such benefits, the rules require that the lawyer should be 30 years of age or younger.
In February, the Bombay High Court had issued notice to the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, the Advocates Welfare Fund Trust Committee and the State government on a similar plea.
Advocate Praveen Das appeared for the petitioners, while Additional Advocate General Meena Shastri represented the State.