The Karnataka High Court on 8 June notified The High Court of Karnataka (Designation of Senior Advocates) Rules, 2018 in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in October last year on Senior Advocate Indira Jaising's petition.
The new Rules allow lawyers who appear in courts subordinate to the Karnataka High Court to apply for the designation as well. Further, they prescribe a point-based assessment of Advocates who are being considered for such designation. Following is a breakdown of the total of 100 points that an Advocate can get:
The Rules envisage constitution of a permanent Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates. The Committee will be headed by the Chief Justice, and will comprise of (i) two senior-most sitting Judges of the High Court of Karnataka; (ii) the Advocate General for State of Karnataka; and (iii) a member of the Karnataka High Court Bar, to be nominated by the other members of the committee.
Four modes of introducing a motion for such designation have been stipulated. A proposal can be submitted by the Chief Justice or any sitting Judge of the High Court; by the Advocate General for the State; by two Senior Advocates practicing in Karnataka High Court; or by the Advocate himself.
Procedure for designation
All applications and written proposals are to be submitted to the Secretariat, who will then compile data on the applicant's reputation, conduct, and integrity, including his participation in pro bono work and his appearance in cases involving questions of law during the past five years. The application or the proposal would then be published on the High Court website, inviting suggestions and views of other stakeholders.
Such suggestions and views would be placed before the Committee, which may then seek the Advocate's response on the comments. After the data-base on the Advocate is compiled, the Advocate's case would be put before the Committee for further scrutiny. The Committee would then assess the Advocate on the four criteria as listed above.
Post such overall assessment, the Advocates' candidature would be submitted to the Full Court, which would then vote on the same. The Rules specify that voting by secret ballot will not normally be resorted to in the Full Court except when "unavoidable". Cases which are rejected by the Full Court can be considered afresh after two years. Further, any sort of canvassing by any nominee or applicant would disqualify him for being designated.
The Rules clarify that all pending applications for designation are to be returned to the Advocates, with a direction to apply afresh according to these rules.