The Delhi High Court, dismissing a plea seeking a minimum stipend of Rs 5,000 for junior lawyers, however, appealed to the senior lawyers to be more mindful of the financial background of the newly-enrolled youngsters and employ a more “empathetic approach” towards them considering the virtuosity of the profession.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was dealing a recent Public Interest Litigation filed by a 29-year-old advocate, who has enrolled himself in the Bar Council of Delhi, cleared the AIBE Examination in 2021, and is presently working as a junior in the chambers of a senior advocate.
He highlighted the difficulties being faced by newly-enrolled advocates who are finding themselves in a position where they cannot sustain themselves in Delhi. The plea said that the young advocates are unable to arrange for their accommodation, food, travelling and other expenses, and without there being any proper and consistent source of income, they are unable to make both ends meet.
It also stated that a survey conducted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy demonstrates that more than 79 per cent of the advocates across 7 High Courts with less than two years of legal practice at the bar are earning less than Rs 10,000 per month.
After hearing the matter, the court said, “…This is indeed a sorry state of affairs of a noble profession whose dynamics end up excluding those with less financial resources as compared to their privileged counterparts.”
However, it further noted that, unfortunately, young professionals in all fields, be it from medicine, chartered accountancy, architecture, engineering etc., face problems that are similar to the ones being faced by young advocates.
“Job opportunities are scarce and persons competing for these limited job opportunities are far too many which makes the competition arduous and the services of an individual dispensable,” the court pointed out.
The order, further held that “this court while exercising its writ jurisdiction cannot single out the legal profession alone and hold that only young advocates have the right to claim a stipend”.
“It is well settled that a writ can lie only for the enforcement of the right established by law and Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be stretched to encompass in itself a right of an advocate to claim a monthly stipend from the Bar association,” it added.
The court observed that it “also makes an appeal to seniors in this profession to ensure that the stipend that is paid to their juniors is enough for their juniors to evade the financial stress that accompanies this profession and allows them to lead a more dignified life. We further appeal to them to be more mindful of the financial background of their juniors and employ a more empathetic approach towards the same, considering the virtuosity of this profession”.