Supreme Court issues guidelines for designating senior advocates: Practice duration, test of personality listed as criteria

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a slew of guidelines including setting up of a permanent committee led by the Chief Justice of India to accord senior designation to lawyers.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that besides the CJI, the committee would include the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court or the high court, as the case may be in the committee.

The bench also comprising Justices RF Nariman and Navin Sinha proposed setting up of a permanent secretariat which would collate all information of a candidate who would be considered for confirming of senior designation by the permanent committee.

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

Besides the chief justice and senior-most Supreme Court/high court judge, the committee will also include a representative of the bar and attorney-general in the case of the Supreme Court and advocate-general in the case of high courts.

While deciding the issue of designating a lawyer as senior advocate, the committee would also consider aspects such as number of years put in the practise, judgements in cases to which the lawyer has been a part, publications, pro bono litigation and the test of personality.

The test of personality will take the form of an interview.

Bar and Bench reported that age and income would be no bar for designation.

The bench also made it clear that the permanent secretariat will put the name of candidates being considered for senior designation on the website to invite suggestions of stakeholders.

It said after the names are considered and approved by the permanent committee, the name will be put before the full court which will decide to accord senior designation to an advocate through secret ballot.

The case came before the court after lawyer Indira Jaising filed a petition against the designation in 2015, said the Bar and Bench report. Jaising questioned the discrimination meted out to capable advocates when it comes to “giving them the gown”. She had alleged violation of Article 14 and 15 by the Supreme Court in the procedure followed for designating lawyers as Senior Advocates.

Livelaw had quoted her as saying, "There should be deemed designation for law officers and retired judges as it is believed that senior advocates get preferential treatment in the court. The new system should consider various aspects, including integrity, pro bono work, expertise in specialised areas of law among other." She had also said that the practice was not followed in the United States but was prevalent only in Commonwealth nations.

Read the Supreme Court judgment here:

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Oct 12, 2017 12:24 PM

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