Published: 16th February 2023
Kerala HC grants interim relief to law graduates challenging exorbitant enrolment fees set by Bar council
The court has directed the Bar Council of Kerala to accept the petitioners' applications upon payment of a fee of Rs 750, as required by law, and not to take any more fees for the time being
In a relief for law graduates, the Kerala High Court has granted interim relief to ten petitioners who challenged the Bar Council of Kerala's (BCK) enrolment fee of Rs 15,900. The court has directed the BCK to accept the petitioners' applications upon payment of a fee of Rs 750, as required by law, and not to take any more fees for the time being. The petitioners had stated that the BCK's admission fees were a big financial barrier for them and many others and that the BCK had gone beyond its rule-making authority by charging a fee greater than the Rs 750 allowed under the Advocates Act, as per an IANS report.
The Bar Council was directed by Justice Shaji P Chaly to accept the applications of the petitioners on payment of a fee of Rs 750, as mandated by law, and to refrain from collecting any additional fees for the time being.
"I think it is only appropriate that the Bar Council is directed to receive applications for enrolment without insisting for any additional fee other than Rs 750 prescribed under law..There will be a direction to the respondent Bar Council to receive applications from the petitioners with a fee of Rs 750, which will be subject to the result of this writ petition," the order read stated in a report by IANS.
The group of ten law graduates from Government Law College in Ernakulam who brought the case forward highlighted that the admission fees of the BCK act as a significant financial obstacle for them and many others. The BCK's collection of a fee higher than the Rs 750 limit set by the Advocates Act was alleged to have exceeded the authority granted to it for rule-making.
"Despite the law clearly stipulating the amount of enrolment fee that can be charged, the first respondent (Bar Council of Kerala) is presently levying an amount of Rs 15,900 (or Rs 15,400 in the case of SC/ST applicants) from law graduates who seek to enter the noble profession of law," the plea said as reported by IANS.
Additionally, the petitioners brought to notice that the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal against the 2017 ruling made by the High Court that upheld the limitation of the enrolment fees to Rs 750, in line with the Advocates Act, which was imposed on the State Bar Council.