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Supreme Court issues notice in application seeking implementation of top Court's guidelines on conferring senior designations

These guidelines were laid down by the Supreme Court for a uniform and standardized process to be adopted for the conferment of the Senior gown on lawyers in the Supreme Court as well as the High Courts.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee today issued notice in the application filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising seeking the implementation of the top Court's guidelines on conferring senior designations.

The top Court will now examine if the process of designating senior lawyers should restart with online interviews, in terms of its 2018 guidelines.

Notice has been issued to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court and it is returnable in four weeks.

In August this year, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had moved the Supreme Court for the proper implementation of the Supreme Court’s 2017 judgment in Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India which had laid down guidelines for the designation of lawyers as Senior Advocates.

These guidelines were laid down by the Supreme Court for a uniform and standardized process to be adopted for the conferment of the Senior gown on lawyers in the Supreme Court as well as the High Courts.

Ten months after the judgment, the guidelines were notified by the Supreme Court and in line with these and applications were invited by the Committee for the designation of Senior Advocates in August of 2018. The first round of Senior designations, in line with the new guidelines, culminated in 37 applicants being designated Senior Advocates in March of 2019.

However, between August 2018 and August 2020, no such call for invitations for the Senior designation process was made by the Committee and the process has been at a standstill ever since.

According to the notified guidelines on this issue, such a call for applications should ideally have been made in January 2019, July 2019, January 2020, and July 2020, Jaising’s application says.

The process of Senior designation was made transparent by the Supreme Court through the landmark judgment of 2017 which was crystallised when the guidelines were notified. It “rectified long-standing imbalances and anomalies” in the designation process, the application states.

In this backdrop, Jaising prays that the guidelines notified as a result of the judgment must be implemented in letter and spirit.

“Many High Courts have dutifully implemented the judgment of this Hon’ble Court in Indira Jaising. However, by initiating the Senior Advocate designation process only once, post August 2018, this Hon’ble Court has failed to comply with its own judgment and 2018 guidelines. This inertia has adversely impacted several deserving members of the Bar, who are otherwise eligible to be designated.”

Mindful of the existing situation as regards the pandemic and the resultant limitations, the application adds that the initial process of the designation can be carried out in the electronic mode, in line with how the Court is discharging its duties and functions of hearing cases through video conferencing. The application states,

"…this Court has done an admirable job of ensuring that the doors of justice are kept open even in the face of the crisis brought by the global pandemic. It is reiterated that this Hon’ble Court by conducting numerous hearings of Court case via virtual mode on a daily basis has done a commendable job and hence, by the present application, it is most respectfully submitted that a similar procedure can also be extended to the Senior designation process.”

The application has been drawn and filed by Advocate Anandita Pujari.

Read Order:

Indira Jaising vs SCI through S-G.pdf
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