Bhagyesha Kurane is one of more than 8,200 students who cleared the entrance examination for lawyers this year. She was supposed to start with her practice and earn her bread and butter on her own. However, she was shocked to learn that the fee to get her certificate and identification card from the bar council is double of what it was last year.
“How will we be able to pay such an amount now? Earlier, the sum was Rs 6,500 and 7,500 for SC/ST and open candidates respectively. However, the prices for the same now are Rs 14,500 and Rs 15,000 respectively. In times when COVID-19 has resulted in many families not earning at all, the hike in certificate fee is not done. It should be rolled back for at least this year,” she said.
NewsClick spoke to another candidate who wished to remain anonymous, fearing a reprisal from the Bar Council. He had cleared the degree exam this year. His father is a farmer while his mother is a homemaker. He comes from an economically disadvantaged background and is unable to pay Rs 15,000 in one go.
“I thought that I would earn some money from my practice and help out my family. But if I don't pay this amount for the certificate, I won't be able to start my practice. The Bar Council should re-think its decision to hike the certificate fee,” the candidate said.
The Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa held a general meeting on November 3, 2019, where they passed a resolution to hike the fees for students who had just passed out. The executive committee of the bar council met on December 7, 2019 and finalised the decision. The notification was finally issued on January 1st, 2020.
NewsClick spoke to Sudeep Pasbola, the vice-chairman of the bar council. He said that the decision would not be revoked now. “The decision was taken in a pre-corona time. It was taken at the general body meeting so it won't be changed now,” said Pasbola. He added that the fees had remain unchanged for the state bar council for almost a decade.
“The fee structure was not changed in the last ten years. You can compare the free structure with any other state bar council. Even today, our fees is less than that in other states; others have set the fee to between Rs 17,000 and Rs 20,000. We have decided it will be Rs 14,500 for SC/ST candidates and Rs 15,000 for open students,” said Pasbola.
Since the council has taken the stand to not rollback the changes, students have begun an online campaign against the hike on Change.org, hoping to generate support from all over state. More than 581 students has signed the petition till Wednesday evening. The students are trying garner more support to make themselves heard to the council.
“There should be a postponement of the decision for this year. The situation outside is very serious. People don't have money. In this case, the bar council should allow the candidates to continue with last fee structure for this year and hike the amount gradually over the next few years,” said another student.