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'Senior Designation Rules Contrary To Supreme Court Guidelines'; Madras High Court Issues Notice On Challenge Against Rules

Sebin James
11 Nov 2021 2:35 PM GMT
Senior Designation Rules Contrary To Supreme Court Guidelines; Madras High Court Issues Notice On Challenge Against Rules
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In a PIL challenging the validity of Rules 4(1) (a) and 4(1) (b) of Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2020, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D Audikesavalu has admitted the matter and issued notice to the administrative section of High Court. According to a petition filed by five advocates, the notified rules are in contravention of...

In a PIL challenging the validity of Rules 4(1) (a) and 4(1) (b) of Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2020, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D Audikesavalu has admitted the matter and issued notice to the administrative section of High Court.

According to a petition filed by five advocates, the notified rules are in contravention of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India and the 2018 guidelines issued by the Supreme Court for designation of Senior Advocates. While the Supreme Court guidelines allowed advocates with ten years of standing at the bar to apply for senior designation, Madras High Court Senior Designation Rules replaces it primarily with a twin criteria: minimum age of 45 years and minimum experience of fifteen years.

During the last hearing on 21st October, the High Court had deferred the hearing since a committee was constituted after a full-court meeting and its report was likely to get submitted in a few weeks.

Today, Senior Advocate Satish Parasaran contended that the minimum age limit (45 years)/ experience criteria (15 years) specified in the rules for designation of senior advocates will not stand the test of arbitrariness under Article 14, similar to the apex court's observations in the recent judgment of Madras Bar Association v. Union of India LL 2021 SC 296. In July, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, with a 2:1 majority, had struck down the minimum age criteria of 50 years for consideration of advocates as prospective members in tribunals, terming it as arbitrary and discriminatory.

Senior Advocate Satish Parasaran noted that the latest MBA judgment sought to bring in some uniformity regarding appointments. The Madras High Court Senior Designation Rules, 2020 will ultimately turn out to be unfair to otherwise competent persons seeking senior designation if the age limit criteria is adhered to.

He inquired as to why a larger pool of individuals can't be made available for consideration as per Supreme Court guidelines and that entering the zone of consideration was the petitioners' primary request.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee replied that the subject has been under consideration in three full-court meetings conducted and the committee constituted is expected to turn in a report soon.

Additionally, he noted that "in matters pertaining to conferment of senior designation and appointment, there has to be a subjective element".

"Recently, the exercise of this subjective element has been subjected to some extraneous considerations. However, merely on that basis, you cannot turn the system on its head and remove the element of subjectivity completely."

The Senior Designation Rules under challenge came into force in July 2020. It received flak soon after for minimum age criteria, and for debarring senior advocates from mentioning and seeking adjournments.

The matter has been next listed on December 23, 2021.

Case Title: K. Rangasamy And 4 Others. v. The High Court Of Madras

Case No: WP/21065/2021 (PIL)

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