Supreme Court: Dismissing the appeals, the bench of M.Y. Eqbal and R. Banumathi, JJ held that the retired officials who joined legal profession constitute a separate class and the disentitlement of the benefit of lump sum welfare fund under the Tamil Nadu Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act, 1987 to this group of advocates cannot be said to be unreasonable.
The Court further said that the retired employees have the substantial retiral benefits, gratuity apart from receiving pension. Some amount of financial stability is ensured in the form of pension and terminal benefits to these advocates who joined law profession after retirement. Making them eligible for lump sum welfare fund under the Act would actually amount to double benefit to them placed better than their counter part lawyers who struggle through difficult times.
The class of lawyers who choose this profession as the sole means of their livelihood are the real deservers because they stand difficult times in the profession and. also because they form a separate class from that of retired persons. The retired officials who joined legal profession constitute a separate class and so this distinction is not arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of Article 14. Therefore, the disentitlement of the benefit of lump sum welfare fund to this group of advocates cannot be said to be unreasonable.
Advocates Welfare Fund is enacted with the object of providing social security in the form of financial assistance to juniors and the welfare scheme for indigent or disabled advocates. As the appellants are already in receipt of pension from their employers so there is no arbitrariness in excluding them from the applicability of Bihar State Advocates’Welfare Fund Act 1983.S.Seshachalam v. Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 1011, decided on 16-12-2014