New Delhi: A permanent committee under the chairmanship of chief justice of India would accord the designation of senior advocate to lawyers, said the supreme court on Thursday while issuing a slew of guidelines for the purpose.
A three-judge bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, RF Nariman and Navind Sinha said that the permanent committee would also include a senior- most judge of the apex court or a high court, attorney general of supreme court and advocate general of high court and a representative of the bar.
The bench proposed the setting up of a permanent secretariat which would collect all information of a candidate who would be considered for conferring of senior designation by the permanent committee.
The PIL filed by senior lawyer Indira Jaising seeking transparency in and overhauling of the ‘opaque system’ of designating lawyers as senior advocate, the supreme court had in March referred it to a larger three-judge bench.
The bench said that 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 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 in which he 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 petitioner Jaisingh, while terming the current procedure as ‘discriminatory’, had said this should be discarded in favour of a more transparent system. She had pointed out that there is no senior or junior tags on lawyers in the United States and this practice is there only in the Commonwealth nations.
“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.