Madras High Court: Graduates from School of Excellence in Law eligible for government stipend

Case- M Karpagam v. The Home Secretary and Ors

Tamil Nadu Government had released a Government Order on June 30th in 2020.
As per this order, law graduates from government institutions, would be eligible for a stipend of ₹3000 per month for the first 2 years of their practice on the following grounds:

  1. If they have enrolled with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
  2. If they have filed an affidavit attesting that they are practicing law
  3. If their family income is not more than Rs 2.5 lakh.
  4. If they are not above 30 years of age.

Although graduates from School of Excellence in Law (SOEL) were denied this stipend and privilege, without any valid reason.

A PIL challenged this decision by the Government.

The Government stated that the benefits of the Government Order is to provide financial assistance only to the ones who are in the economically backward classes of the society.

It was observed that SOEL, was excluded from this category as the fees for the institution was ₹80,000 per year and the persons who have paid so much fees cannot be considered as persons who require financial assistance.

A Bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, opined that the quantum of tuition fee paid by a candidate to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in law, is not relevant as long as a candidate seeking the stipend fulfils all conditions mentioned in a Government Order.

The Bench held that the Government Order does not expressly exclude SOEL graduates, and they cannot be denied the benefits if the fulfil the criteria mentioned in the Government Order.

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