A Lawyer Seeking Seniority Tag Will Have To Undergo Go Personality Test As Per New Guidelines

October 13th, 2017 | by eBangla Bureau
A Lawyer Seeking Seniority Tag Will Have To Undergo Go Personality Test As Per New Guidelines
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THE Supreme Court of India has issued tough guidelines and constituted a committee headed by the Chief Justice of India to accord senior designation to practising lawyers in High Courts and the apex court. As per the guidelines made public on Tuesday, a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that besides the CJI, the committee would include a senior-most apex court or a high court judge, as the case may be. The decision has been made on a petition filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising in July 2015. She had sought guidelines to bring in transparency and an overhaul of the “opaque and discriminatory system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates.“There should be a deemed designation for law officers and retired judges as it is believed that senior advocates get preferential treatment in court,” she had said, according to The Indian Express. “The new system should consider various aspects, including integrity, pro bono work, and expertise in specialised areas of law among other.”The petition challenged the constitutional validity of sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act of 1961, which recognise two classes of advocates – senior advocates and other advocates. Section 16(2) stipulates who may be designated as a senior advocate.

The bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman and Navin Sinha, proposed the setting up of a permanent secretariat which would collate all information of a candidate who would be considered for conferring of senior designation by the permanent committee. Apart from the incumbent CJI and the senior-most judge  of the Supreme Court or a High Court, the committee will comprise one representative of the Bar and the Attorney General  of India in case of the apex court and Advocate General in case of high courts. The committee while deciding about designation a lawyer as senior will consider the number of years put in the practise, judgements in cases in which the lawyer has been a part, pro-bono litigations taken up in public interest and the test of personality. A lawyer will have to undergo the test of personality for which he or she will be interviewed for being designated as a senior lawyer. The bench also made it clear that the permanent secretariat will put the names of candidates being considered for senior designation on the website for inviting suggestions of stakeholders. It said after a name is considered and approved by the permanent committee, it will be put before the full court (involving SC/HC judges as the case may be) which will decide to accord senior designation to an advocate either unanimously or majority, through secret ballot.

The Attorney General had on August 29 told the court that the designation of senior advocates cannot be termed ‘bad in law’ and it does not violate Article 14 of Constitution meaning equality before law. The apex court had in March referred to a PIL filed by senior lawyer Indira Jaising to a larger three-judge bench. It had sought transparency in and overhauling the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates saying the system is discriminatory. She had opined that the existing   procedure was discriminatory and hence she called for in favour of a more transparent system.

“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 said.The senior lawyer had argued that in the United States, there are no senior or junior tags on lawyers and such a practice was prevalent only in the Commonwealth nations. The apex had heard afresh a plea seeking transparency and overhauling in the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. The apex court had also tagged with it a petition pending in the Delhi High Court which challenged the provisions of the Advocates Act relating to the designation of lawyers as senior advocates. It had said that after the verdict in the matter was reserved, some lawyers had approached the apex court to intervene in the case and submitted that all have not been given a proper hearing on the issue.

 

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