No Provision for maintaining ballot papers of voting used in Senior Advocate designation: Kerala HC [Read the Counter]
The Kerala High Court has filed its counter affidavit in a Petition filed by Advocate P.B Sahasranaman challenging the denial of Senior Designation by the High Court. The High Court has stated that there is no provision in the rules for maintaining the ballot papers used in the voting process.
The counter affidavit of the High Court , filed through its Registrar General Mr Ashok Menon, stated as follows:- “The decision regarding conferment of designation of Senior Advocate was taken in full court meeting by secret ballot. The papers for secret ballot for designation of Senior Advocates upto 2015 were destroyed as per the decision taken by the Administrative Committee in its meeting held on 9.6.2016.As per the rules also, there is no provision to keep the ballot papers or the time limit for its destruction.”
The High Court of Kerala , had earlier admitted a Lawyer’s challenge against denial of his senior designation. You may read the Live Law story in that context here.The Writ Petition was filed by Advocate P.B Sahasranaman whose claim for senior advocate designation were rejected by the full court of the High court, citing failure to secure 2/3rd votes as required.Though Mr Sahasranaman had directly approached the apex court earlier with such a plea, the same was rejected on admission stage itself, however relegating Mr Sahasranaman to approach the High Court if any in this context.Mr Sahasranaman then approached the High Court with the aforementioned the writ petition.
In the counter affidavit , it was further averred that due to destruction of above records, the votes secured by each advocate in the full court meeting of 19/08/2015 cannot be stated.
The High court also clarified in its counter affidavit, that the details of judges present in the voting and the votes received by each candidates cannot be divulged to pubic. Justification of this averment was made stating that such information were held by the concerned authority in its fiduciary capacity and hence cannot be publicized in whatsoever manner.
The High Court also refuted the contentions of the petitioner that only judges ‘present and voted’ at the meeting ought to be considered to consider the number of votes obtained. The High Court stated :-“ The allegation in paragraph 15 of the writ petition that the Judges who consider that the proposed Advocate does not deserve such distinction as Senior Advocate has to necessarily mark ‘No’ in the ballet paper is incorrect and hence denied.Rule 6 of the Rules provides the designation of Senior Advocate is conferred only on securing not less than two –thirds of the total number of Judges present in the meeting.Since the Rule does not say “Present and voted”, the contention that only the actual number of votes holding secret ballot alone to be taken to consideration for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is an acceptance for the proposal is not correct.”
Read the Counter here.