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Priests, nuns can become lawyers: Kerala High Court

Staff Reporter

`The entry of such persons will add lustre to the profession'

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court, on Monday, held that nuns and priests could be enrolled as lawyers, provided they did not engage in a fulltime profession, such as teaching or nursing.

Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair gave the ruling while allowing three writ petitions by the nuns Tina Jose and M. Tessy and the priest Thomas Pudussery, challenging the decision of the enrolment committee of the Bar Council of Kerala against enrolling them as lawyers.

The court observed that nuns and priests were members of the religious profession. But under rule 2(b) of the Bar Council of Kerala Rules, a profession was defined as "analogous to trade or business which generates income and not the profession of religion."

The court said that no one became priest or nun for taking up employment and earning a living. A person who joined the profession of religion dedicated his or her life to the service of god. Therefore, they were not engaged in a profession. The court also pointed out that under the Bar Council of India Rules, a person already enrolled was not disqualified even if he joined the profession of religion. Thus, the rules did not prevent them from joining the profession of religion.

The court made it clear that the contention of the State and national-level Bar councils that priests and nuns were not eligible to join the legal profession was not supported by any statute. The court said, "The entry of such persons will add lustre to the profession." The legal profession needed selfless and dedicated persons to take up the cause of the downtrodden and the environment, without being concerned about fees.

The Judge said that a person passing out of a seminary, or any other religious institution, had taken a vow to serve God and His people.

Such a person could seek and obtain employment in any service.

Priests and nuns were already working in the field of medicine and education. In fact, they could even seek employment in Government service.

Being a priest or nun was not a disqualification for being appointed in Government services.

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