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SC notice in challenge to Calcutta HC decision partly allowing challenge to  Senior Advocate designation guidelines
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SC notice in challenge to Calcutta HC decision partly allowing challenge to Senior Advocate designation guidelines

In January last year, a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court had partly allowed a plea challenging the Senior Advocate designation guidelines. The Calcutta High Court administration has now challenged this judgment before the Supreme Court.

Meera Emmanuel

The Supreme Court has issued notice in a Special Leave Petition filed by the Calcutta High Court authorities, challenging the Calcutta High Court's 2019 judgment that had partly allowed a plea challenging the High Court's Senior Designation guidelines.

The order issuing notice was passed last week by a Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Suryakant.

In September 2018, advocate Debasish Roy challenged the guidelines, contending that they were arbitrary, vague and violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution. Following his challenge, the Calcutta High Court had also stalled the Senior Designation process pending its final judgment in the matter.

On January 31, 2019, a Division Bench of Justices IP Mukerjee and Amrita Sinha directed for the amendment of some of the guidelines, finding merit in some of the contentions made by Roy.

By this judgment, the Calcutta High Court directed that changes be made so that

  • Senior Designation not confined to Advocates practicing in higher judiciary alone

  • There is no provision allowing the Senior Designation Committee the discretion to relax the minimum threshold for qualifying points

  • Professional income is not a factor in deciding Senior Advocate designations

  • Pro Bono work from sources other than Legal Services Authority are not excluded from being considered for Senior Advocate designation

The Court, therefore, directed that amendments be made to paragraphs 11, 13, 14 and 20 of the Calcutta High Court Senior Designation guidelines, so that they are brought in tune with the Advocates Act, 1961 and the 2017 dictum of the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India & Ors.

A plea to review this judgment was rejected by the Calcutta High Court in July last year, with the Bench observing,

"... none of the grounds in Order 47 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure has been made out to justify entertainment of this review application. The remedy of the applicant, if at all available, lies in appeal."

In turn, the Calcutta High Court administration has now approached the Supreme Court in appeal.

[Read the Supreme Court order issuing notice]

Calcutta HC Guidelines on Senior Designations - SC notice Order.pdf
Preview

[Read the order rejecting plea for review of the Calcutta HC's judgment]

Calcutta HC Guidelines on Senior Designations - Review - Calcutta HC Order.pdf
Preview