Madras HC Orders Minimum Monthly Stipend for Junior Lawyers Across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Madras HC Orders Minimum Monthly Stipend for Junior Lawyers Across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

The Madras High Court has instructed the TN Bar Council to circulate directives to all bar associations in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. These directives mandate the provision of a monthly stipend ranging from ₹15,000 to ₹20,000 to all junior lawyers registered with them.

Justices SM Subramaniam and C Kumarappan, comprising a bench, instructed the TN Bar Council to ensure that all associations pay a minimum monthly stipend of ₹20,000 to junior lawyers practicing in Chennai, Madurai, and Coimbatore.

Likewise, junior lawyers practicing before courts in other cities across Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry should receive a minimum monthly stipend of ₹15,000.

The Court stated that the minimum stipend has been determined based on the "basic living costs and the prevalent cost index" in the State. Additionally, the Bar Council will convene a meeting to establish the eligibility criteria for identifying individuals who qualify as "junior advocates."

According to the order, individuals eligible for the stipend are fresh law graduates practicing in courts throughout the State.

“Why should young lawyers be forced to go through the struggles we faced? Let us come together and create a robust space for them. Suffering as a junior lawyer must not be a necessary part and parcel of this profession. To expect them to get used to not being paid and suffer is unacceptable and demeaning. Article 21, and one’s right to livelihood extends to young law graduates. Though they are here to learn, they must be paid. Their inability to make a living must not come in their way of learning,” the bench said. 

Advocate CK Chandraasekar, representing the TN Bar Council, expressed the council's willingness to implement the payment for junior lawyers but requested a two-month period to issue the necessary circulars. Nonetheless, the bench instructed the council to distribute the circulars within four weeks and to provide a compliance report to the Court by July 10th.

During the hearing of a petition requesting orders for the government of Puducherry to allocate funds to the Puducherry Advocates Welfare Fund, the Puducherry government informed the court that it did not oppose allocating funds but cited delays due to "internal conflicts" among various lawyer bodies in the Union Territory. The Court directed the local bar associations to collaborate and devise a solution within four months from the present date.

Additionally, the bench emphasized that the circulars issued by the TN Bar Council must explicitly state that there should be no discrimination based on gender identity in the payment of monthly stipends to lawyers.

On June 6 of this year, the bench issued another order stating that senior lawyers were failing to provide even a minimum stipend to junior lawyers working under them, which constituted exploitation and a violation of fundamental rights.

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