20 March 2023 1:48 PM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Monday, expressed displeasure that the petition challenging the system of designating senior advocates has impleaded the Chief Justice of India and the Full Court of the Supreme Court as two of the respondents. The Apex Court made it abundantly clear that if the Supreme Court of India is to be added as a party then there is a prescribed method for doing that. “You...
The Supreme Court, on Monday, expressed displeasure that the petition challenging the system of designating senior advocates has impleaded the Chief Justice of India and the Full Court of the Supreme Court as two of the respondents. The Apex Court made it abundantly clear that if the Supreme Court of India is to be added as a party then there is a prescribed method for doing that.
“You can’t have such a cavalier approach to this Court.”
A Bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Aravind Kumar asked the petitioners to file an amended memo of parties.
Noting that Advocate, Mathews J. Nedumpara, the petitioner in the case, is an advocate with about 40 years of, Justice Kaul told him that “You know if the Supreme Court has to be impleaded, how it has to be impleaded.”
After briefly hearing the Counsel, the Bench recorded in the order -
“In the nature of the matter, Respondents 2 (CJI) and 3 (Full Court of SCI) cannot be parties and if the Supreme Court of India is to be added as a party it is only through the Secretary General. The matter will not be placed before the Court, until and unless the amendment is carried out.”
At the request of the Counsel, the Bench noted that if the Counsel amends the memo in a day’s time, the matter be listed for hearing on 24th March, 2023.
Justice Kaul also indicated that on the next date of hearing, the Counsel is to satisfy the Bench why the decision of the three judges Bench (which laid down guidelines for senior designation) is to be referred to a five judges Bench. Otherwise the present Bench is bound by the order of the three judges bench. The judge made it clear that the Counsel cannot merely assert that the judgment of the three judge Bench is not est.
President of NLC (National Lawyers' Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms) and Advocate, Mathews J. Nedumpara has moved the Supreme Court against designation of Advocates as "Senior" under Sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act, 1961.
Last week, the matter was mentioned before CJI DY Chandrachud for early listing. Accordingly, it was listed today for hearing.
Nedumpara says such designation has created a class of advocates with special rights, and the same has been seen as reserved only for the kith and kin of judges and senior advocates, politicians, ministers etc., resulting in the legal industry being "monopolised".
"A special class of advocates with special rights, privileges and status not available to ordinary advocates, is unconstitutional, being violative of the mandate of equality under Article 14 and the right to practice any profession under Article 19, as well as the right to life under Article 21," the plea states.
It alleges that due to this system, a vast majority of meritorious law practitioners are left behind as ordinary plebeians receiving discriminatory treatment in the Courts.
The plea compares senior designation to that of Queen's counsel in 18th century England. "The conferment of the title of the King/Queen‟s counsel is the conferment of a title as a favour to lawyers who represented the Crown...The concept of Queen‟s Counsel is totally alien to India."
It is further said that the impugned provisions have resulted in denial of justice to the ordinary class of litigants who cannot afford a senior advocate or who wishes to engage a senior advocate of his/her choice in whom he/she has confidence and faith.
"Lawyers representing the cause of their respective clients are entitled to equal and just treatment. However, that almost universally, is not practiced. A designated lawyer, who very often represents a bigger fish, has his way in every possible sense."
[Case Title: Mathews J. Nedumpara And Ors. v. UoI And Ors. WP(C) No. 320/2023]
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