Madras High Court Orders Status

Considering the plight of low-income young practicing lawyers, the Madras High Court has filed a proposal to frame a scheme of allocating houses in a public quota on a rental basis for them.

Judge Krishnan Ramasamy directed the Tamil Nadu Housing Board and the State Government to frame the scheme in consultation with the TN & Puducherry Bar Council giving preference to young practicing barristers up to the prescribed age, reserving a certain percentage residential housing in the public quota. An alternative would be to take into account the financial situation of the lawyer concerned and give him residential accommodation for a limited number of years on a rental basis, the court ruled.

“…Although lawyers are seen in society as highly competent and capable, but not very warm and trustworthy. Nowadays, many young Advocatesalthough they have mastered their law degree, face many difficulties in the society since they are part of the irregular income group in their initial phase of practice, facing difficulties in meeting their financial needs and earning their life...”, noted the court before issuing instructions.

Banks and landlords are indifferent to requests from lawyers regarding loans and rental of property respectively, the court added.

On the question of whether lawyers can be allocated residential accommodation within the framework of the public quota, the court relied on the Madras HC judgment in T. Sornapandian & Others v. The Principal Secretary to Government, Housing & Urban Development (HB(2) HB5(2)) Department, Chennai & Others (2019).

Relying on said judgement, the court noted that there is no hard and fast rule as to whom residential accommodation should be allocated under a “public quota”.

“In such circumstances, it must be interpreted that a person who renders a service to the public, is certainly entitled to residential accommodation under public quota”, the single bench has been added.

Noting that a lawyer is an officer of justice, Justice Krishnan Ramsamy also mentioned that the services rendered by young practicing lawyers to assist the court, serve the litigant public and dispense justice are essential.

“The duty of a lawyer is as important as that of a judge and plays a vital role in the preservation of the judicial system and since the duty of a lawyer is to assist the Court in the administration of justice, the practice of law has a public utilitarian flavor”added the court.

The court issued the direction while hearing a motion for writ filed by a former president of the District Consumer Redressal Forum who also completed 35 years of practice as an attorney. The court lamented that the petitioner was unable to own a house even at the age of sixty despite his service and requested the allocation of residential accommodation under a public quota which was initially rejected.

Taking note of the same, the court also ordered the defendants to consider the plaintiff’s representation on the merits and make a decision within eight weeks.

“Although the ‘public quota’ is presented as a separate quota, it is essentially part of the government quota, as 20% of the housing provided by the government is allocated under the ‘public quota’. The request of the petitioner must be counted as part of the public quota…”, the court went on to mention the post held by the applicant and the services he rendered as a practicing lawyer.

Therefore, the court held that the petitioner was entitled to seek residential accommodation on the basis of renting under a public quota.

Previously, the respondents argued that the petitioner was well off without any allocation under the public quota since he has been a practicing lawyer for many years and his wife also retired from the service in 2017 as a nurse. .

Case title: P.Subburaj v. The Principal Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development & Anr.

Case no: WPNo.27614 of 2017

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 111

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