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SC Revamps Process to Designate Senior Advocates, Lays Down Point-Based System

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi put in a new system in place, prescribing uniform guidelines and transparent mechanism for designation of Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court as well as the 24 high courts.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:October 12, 2017, 2:00 PM IST
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SC Revamps Process to Designate Senior Advocates, Lays Down Point-Based System
A lawyer speaks on his mobile phone as he walks past India's Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Imager: Reuters)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday revamped the manner of designating Senior Advocates in the country, introducing a permanent committee and secretariat for evaluation of lawyers, who will also have to give interviews for earning the distinction.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi put in a new system in place, prescribing uniform guidelines and transparent mechanism for designation of Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court as well as the 24 high courts.

There were no fixed guidelines in public domain on designation of Senior Advocates and some of the selections had raised questions over the correctness and the objectivity of the process

The Court said that there will now be permanent committee, which will be headed by the Chief Justice of India, two senior-most judges and the Attorney General for India.

Such a committee in high courts will consist of the chief justice there, two senior judges and advocate general.

The four members of the permanent committee will nominate the fifth member from the bar.

All applications for the designation will be scrutinised by a secretariat, which will compile all relevant information about the lawyers and will also pertinent information on the court's official website to invite views.

After such names are out before the permanent committee with relevant inputs, the full court comprising all the judges in that court shall cast their votes, either through secret ballot or otherwise, and the designation will be cleared on the basis of majority of votes.

The bench held that henceforth, selection will be done strictly on the basis of points-based evaluation of lawyers, which for the first time, will also include interviewing the candidates.

Number of years of practice, judgments in which the lawyer argued, pro bono work, publications in recognized journals and special mentions will constitute the basis of designation.

This will be followed by, which Justice Gogoi described as the most important aspect in his opinion, 'test of personality and suitability' that will be assessed through personal interaction.

The Court order came on a clutch of petitions, which had questioned the manner of designating Senior Advocates in the country and pointed out there was complete darkness about how lawyers were assessed by SC and HC judges.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had led this legal battle.

A set of petitions also wanted the system of designation to go but the bench today dismissed that prayer and instead laid down uniform guidelines to mandate all future designations.

It also clarified that the designation can also be taken away by the full court in cases of "misconduct" by Senior Advocates.
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