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'Violation Of SC Judgment' -Plea In Orissa HC Challenges New Rules For Designation Of Senior Advocates [Read Petition]

17 Sep 2019 6:46 AM GMT
Violation Of SC Judgment -Plea In Orissa HC Challenges New Rules For Designation Of Senior Advocates [Read Petition]
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A writ petition has been filed in the Orissa High Court, challenging Rule 6(9) of the High Court of Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocate) Rules, 2019, contending that the said rule is in contravention of the guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, (2017) 9 SCC 766, for designation as Senior Advocates.

The Petitioner, Banshidhar Baug, an Advocate in the Orissa High Court with a practice of over 38 years, submitted that pursuant to its powers under Section 16 of the Advocates Act, 1961 and the guidelines issued in the Indira Jaising case, the Orissa High Court introduced Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocate) Rules, 2019.

Further, it has been submitted that while Rules 3 to 6 lay down the procedure for designation as Senior Advocate, Rule 6(9) on the other hand, gives suo motu power to the Full Court to designate an Advocate as Senior Advocate if it is of the opinion that by virtue of his/her ability or standing at the Bar, the said Advocate deserves such designation, without following the procedure laid down in Rules 3 to Rule 6(6). He contended that such a rule was framed with an intention for arbitrary exercise of power by the Court and was contrary to the vires of the Constitution.

The Petitioner has also challenged the arbitrary manner in which some advocates, who are related to members of the Permanent Committee constituted for designation as senior advocates, are designed as senior advocates in violation of the prescribed procedure.

Notably, the Permanent Committee consists of Chief Justice Kalpesh Satyendra Jhaveri, two Senior Most Judges of the High Court, Advocate General of the State and one Senior Advocate of the Bar, namely, Sri Bijoya Krushna Mohanty, nominated by the Members of the Committee.

The Petitioner contends that after constitution of the Permanent Committee, the Court called for applications from eligible intending candidates for applying to be designated as Senior Advocates. Accordingly, the Petitioner, the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9 and various other advocates applied. Thereafter, on August 9, names of 45 Applicant-Advocates were notified by the Registrar (Judicial) of the high court, inviting views and proposals, as per Rule 6(3). While the Petitioner was among those 45 names, the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9 were not.

Despite the above position, the Full Court, in a meeting on August 17, "illegally and arbitrarily" recommended the names of the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9 to be designated as Senior Advocates and the Registrar, vide notification dated August 19, designated them as Senior. This action of the Full Court has been disputed by the Petitioner, stating that it was in violation of the 2019 Rules. He raised the following arguments in support of his case:

  1. That the Petitioner, who was much more senior than the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9, had been illegally discriminated and humiliated mentally.
  2. That the fundamental rights of the Petitioner, guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution, had been violated in as much as he had not been treated equally against the Opposite party Nos. 5 to 9.
  3. That the decision of the Permanent Committee was contrary to the 2019 Rules and was passed without jurisdiction in as much as when the opposite party Nos. 5 to 9 had applied for being designated as Senior Advocates by filing applications as per 2019 Rules and thus they could not have been considered under Rule 9(6). "Until and unless the names of those five learned Advocates are either proposed by the Hon'ble Chief Justice or by any other Hon'ble Judges of this Hon'ble Court or rooted through applications, their names should not have come to the Permanent Committee at all".
  4. That the Permanent Committee had bypassed the procedure laid down under Rule 6(3) and Rule 6(5), and thus the actions were contrary to the procedure established by law. Rule 6(3) prescribes that the Secretariat will notify the proposed names of the Advocate to be designated as Senior Advocate on the official website of the High Court of Orissa inviting suggestion and views and Rule 6(5) that the Permanent Committee shall make its overall assessment after submission of such views by the Secretariat.
  5. That when the names of 45 Applicant-Advocates were notified on August 9 inviting views and proposals, there was no reason as to why instead of notifying the names of the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9 inviting views and proposals as per the Rules, they had been declared Senior Advocates.
  6. That the Opposite Party No. 6, Bibeka Nanda Mohanty, had not appeared nor argued in any case at least in the past 10 to 15 years and he had been designated as senior only because his father, Shri Bijoya Krushna Mohanty, was a member of the Permanent Committee.

On this basis, the Petitioner has prayed that the concerned authorities may be called upon to show cause why the notification dated August 19, passed on the basis of Permanent Committee's order, and Rule 6(9) of the 2019 Rules should not be quashed. He has also prayed for directions to the Committee to consider the application of the Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9 along with 45 applicants named in the Notice dated August 9. 

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[Read Petition]

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