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Above: An advocate at Supreme Court. Photo: Anil Shakya

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and Rohinton Fali Nariman on Thursday (October 12) directed that the selection of advocates to be nominated as senior advocates henceforth will be considered and gone through by a committee, which will comprise the Chief Justice of India, the Solicitor General and two other major members.

Not only that, there are clearly specified norms against which the application of an advocate will be judged. These are: area of specialisation, publication, pro-bono work, test of personality and time of practice.

It was also decided that if an advocate fails to prove him or herself as per above standards and perimeters, the he or she can file another, fresh application after two years.

The case is about senior advocate Indira Jaising challenging the procedure for designating senior advocates.

The Supreme Court had heard the matter on October 21, 2016 and reserved the matter for pronouncement of orders. But before the order was pronounced, an application was filed stating that most of the parties did not get sufficient opportunity to make submissions. The court, therefore, directed that the matters be heard afresh. Thereafter on March 22 the Supreme Court observed that the matter will have ramifications affecting all bar associations in the country, therefore the matter should be heard by a constitution bench.

After that order the High Court of Delhi designated 12 lawyers as senior advocates.

At that the petitioner filed an application questioning the designation of these senior advocates by the high court. She submitted that the bench which was hearing the case had said that there will be status quo and from the time the notice was issued no designation of senior advocates had been done till the Delhi High Court designated these advocates.

The Supreme Court had issued notice on this.

On Thursday the bench read operative sections of the long judgment. Apart from the main points, the procedure will be as follows:

“Written proposals for senior advocates will be submitted to the secretariat and the secretariat will collect all related information and present it before the committee.

The proposal will be published on the website and suggestions will be welcomed by the members of that court. Thereafter, the permanent committee will scrutinize the application before interviewing the advocate, keeping in mind the parameters (as above) on which he or she will be judged.

—India Legal Bureau

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