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Senior Advocates Welcome SC Judgment On Senior Designation

Many senior advocates have welcomed the Supreme Court judgment on designation of the senior advocates, saying it is a step further to bring transparency. However, some have expressed reservations on the inclusion of attorney-general for the apex court and the state’s advocate-general for high courts, saying political consideration would prevail.

Soon after the judgment, petitioner-advocate Indira Jaising told Livelaw: It is an excellent judgment towards transparency. The SC will evaluate the performance.”

“Secrecy Goes. Now Only The Best Can Make It”, ‘Petitioner’ Jaising Hails New Senior Designation Rules

Senior advocate Harish Salve told LiveLaw: “The transparency issue is welcome, but I have some reservation to the point that the Secretariat will publish the proposal of designation of a particular advocate in the official website of the court concerned inviting suggestions/views of other stakeholders in the proposed designation.”

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave also expressed a similar opinion on the point. He said: “The judgment provides a detailed mechanism, procedure and criteria for designating an advocate as senior. While the judgment may provide a welcome redressal mechanism to the Bar, it is capable of being abused by some disgruntled elements in the Bar to stall good and independent lawyers. Similarly, the inclusion of advocate-general in the high court panel may give political colour due to strong partisan attitudes of some law officers who are appointed purely on political considerations. It may delay the actual designation unless some time-frame is fixed.”

Senior advocate Indu Malhotra said: “It is a positive judgment. The SC has set some parameters and put the system in place. This is to bring transparency. ”

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta said the judgment is to be welcomed by all for the overall reason that it will bring greater transparency to the process of designation.

“The guidelines are very significant. It levels the playing field for younger members of the profession by allowing persons with 10-20 years in the profession to apply. The distinction in age criterion between High Court and Supreme Court is done away. 

It encourages young lawyers to engage in probono work and aspire to do research for the purpose of publication. This would however be a disadvantage for existing applicants who are proficient in court work but who haven’t published or done probono work in the course of their profession. 

It encourages domain expertise and thereby encourages young lawyers to specialize in specific areas. I have always felt that in their junior years lawyers are most valuable if they are specifically well informed in specialized topics. However the domains suggested are too wide: constitutional law, criminal law, public interest litigation are too wide to be called domains. Law relating to women is more focused and is the real kind of domain expertise that is desirable. Other such domains could be human rights, medical negligence, electricity, telecom, pollution, prevention of corruption, water law or law of the air, contracts of insurance etc. 

Read The Supreme Court Guidelines On Senior Designation [Read Judgment]

The interview to assess aptitude needs further refinement so that it doesn’t become too subjective. Interviews should be designed scientifically keeping in mind modern psychometric techniques otherwise there is scope for misuse here.

The provision calling for objections are also capable of misuse unless the objections are dealt with firmly and fairly. All objections that are not backed by evidence must be rejected to prevent witch hunt and Malafide attacks on personalities.

The overall impression is that It gives sufficient opportunity to lawyers who are proficient in desk work but do not focus on appearances in courts. This may sound incongruous but it should be remembered that section 16 of the Advocates Act focuses on jurists and not necessarily on advocacy skills. 

Overall it is a positive decision that invests in the future and seeks to build a strong and skilled bar capable of withstanding competition from round the world”, he said.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Senior Advocate  RS Suri, in his personal capacity, told Livelaw that the  attorney-general and advocate-general are political nominees and the court should have included a Bar member in the committee for designation of senior advocates.

Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh wrote on his FB page;

Transparency is the need of the hour, and the Supreme Court has ensured that the opaque system under which Indira and I (and all the other seniors in India) got our designation, shall give way to a completely transparent alternative. In a system ruled by mistrust, I guess this is the only possible way forward.

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