A petition has been by the All India Association of Jurists and a lawyer, through Advocates John Mani V, Sriram Parakkat, Jayant S., Jackson Johny, Sethulakshmi KK, Gayatri Menon and Xavier Thomas VT, in the Kerala High Court seeking the declaration of advocates as essential service workers amid the ongoing restriction imposed under Covid-19 protocols.
The plea asserts that lawyers play a key role in upholding Article 21 by the administration of justice and facilitate access to justice. The petition prayed that
“ The continuous functioning of the Judiciary cannot be put to rest and therefore, it has to function at all times with the participation of the advocates and hence by its very nature services rendered by Advocates, Advocates Clerks and their offices is an essential service as the same caters to the citizens fundamental right to access to justice through an Advocate enshrined under Article 14, 21 and 22(1) of the Constitution"
The plea, making it analogous with the fact of print and electronic media being included within the category of essential service workers, put forth being aggrieved by the apparent arbitrary discrimination the lawyers are met with along with the entire legal fraternity by their omission from category of essentials service, which owing to state’s failure to designate them as one, has also led to difficulty in commuting, especially among those lawyers who do not have their own vehicles.
Seeking a similar declaration for lawyers in Kerala, the petition cited an order of the Delhi High Court, praying for the inclusion of advocates and clerks in the category of essential service amidst the Covid-19 restrictions to allow them to commute freely to their offices and courts and tribunals and function their offices, in order to facilitate the smooth and continuous functioning of courts, tribunals, helping the public in seeking access to justice.