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Kerala HC directs Bar Council of Kerala to collect only Rs. 750 as enrolment fees from law graduates until BCI sets uniform fee

Team SoOLEGAL 19 Jun 2023 6:34pm

Kerala HC directs Bar Council of Kerala to collect only Rs. 750 as enrolment fees from law graduates until BCI sets uniform fee

A division bench of the Kerala High Court has ordered the Bar Council of Kerala (BCK) to collect enrolment fees of Rs.750 only from law graduates seeking to become advocates till the Bar Council of India (BCI) establishes a consistent fee structure applicable to all State Bar Councils.

In February of this year, a single-judge of the Court issued an interim order requiring the BCK to accept law graduates' enrolment applications provisionally in exchange for a fee of Rs.750.

However, the petitioners in the case who objected to the BCK's decision to collect Rs.15, 900 as enrolment fees benefited exclusively from that order.

The BCK appealed the interim order to a division bench.

The Court stated, "to a pointed query from the Court, learned senior counsel appearing for the Bar Council of Kerala has stated that so far as the petitioners are concerned by accepting Rs.750/- enrolment fee, the enrolment of respective petitioners has been completed. In the fitness of things in the exercise of our jurisdiction, by according to the petitioners herein, the representative status to agitate the grievance for and on behalf of similarly situated graduates, who would be interested in getting enrolled on the rolls of the Bar Council of Kerala, we extend the same benefit to such of the aspirants as well. Such a course would avoid a series of individual cases by the aspirants.”

Ten law graduates from the 2019–22 batch from the Government Law College in Ernakulam had petitioned the single court, objecting to the BCK's fee of Rs. 15,900, which they claimed was excessive.

On June 12, when the appeal was heard by a bench of Chief Justice SV Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji, the court issued an order extending the benefit of the single-judge's decision to all law graduates desiring to enrol in the State.

The plea stated that the BCK exceeded its rule-making authority by enacting rules that imposed a fine greater than the 750 stipulated under the Advocates Act.

In the appeal filed by BCK, it was argued that there is no statutory bar preventing the State Bar Council from levying the necessary charges to satisfy the candidates' conditions of enrolling.

When the matter was last heard, counsel for BCK notified the division bench that all of the the original petitioners will be permitted to enrol on paying the payment of Rs.750, subject to the High Court's final decision.

It was also said that, in accordance with the Supreme Court's directives, the Bar Council of India will conduct a meeting to determine a consistent fee for enrolment that will apply to all Bar Councils in India. The BCK will also be present at the meeting and will make a decision afterward, according to the bench.

The Court then issued an order extending the interim order's coverage to all law graduates.

After two months, the appeal will be heard.



Tagged: Kerala High Court  
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