The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has opposed the modification application filed by the Central government in the matter concerning the rules for the designation of Senior Advocates as laid down by the top Court's 2017 judgment in Ms Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India..The SCBA stressed that only Constitutional courts can deal with the designation process in the legal profession, and that bar associations have a say in ensuring that the right criteria are followed to confer the senior gown on deserving lawyers."The Union of India or the State governments, being litigants before the Court have absolutely no locus standi in the matter and accordingly they should not have any right in suggesting anything in the matter of senior designation. The Union of India or the State has no role to play and accordingly has no stakes in the matter of senior designation and thus their application suggesting changes in the procedure needs to be disallowed", the SCBA submitted. The association reiterated concerns that the last round of the senior designation process initiated at the Supreme Court level is yet to conclude. The last notice inviting applications for senior designations was issued by the Supreme Court in February 2022, the SCBA noted..The Supreme Court is presently seized of several pleas seeking the designation of Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court and High Courts without delay. The application by SCBA was filed in that matter. .The other suggestions by the SCBA include doing away with the weightage given to interviews as well as publications by aspirant-advocates. "Awarding 15 points for publications may not be desirable, as very few actively practicing Advocates are able to devote time for writing books and articles. In any case, writing of books and articles does not enhance the advocacy skills of an advocate in any manner and it is difficult to verify whether the article has been written by the Advocate himself. This criterion does not have any nexus to the object that is sought to be achieved i.e., ascertaining the suitability of a candidate for designation. Further, there is no objective criteria to award points for publication," the SCBA submitted. The association contended that assessment of candidates for senior designations is not a one-time process but a continuing one over a vast period of time. Hence, their suitability cannot be determined by a single interview, the SCBA said..Pertinently, the SCBA also sought leniency for advocates with over 30 years' experience at the higher judiciary when it comes to evaluating them in terms of the Senior designation Rules."The rigours of selection stipulated in the judgment of this Hon’ble Court in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India [reported as (2017) 9 SCC 766], should apply only to lawyers who are having less than 30 years of practice in this Court", the SCBA suggested.Further, the experience of counsel at various fora, including tribunals, should be taken into account so as to promote diversity, the SCBA added.The SCBA further suggested that the top court should also factor in the disparity that may be seen in terms of the number of appearances by counsel who appear for the government and those who do not."Advocates representing various governments have large number of appearances, many of them are non-effective hearings whereas private lawyers suffer disadvantage on the number of such appearances," the SCBA pointed out.The SCBA also contended that the guideline regarding secret-ballot voting by judges deserves to be retained.The SCBA's application was settled by Senior Advocate and SCBA president Vikas Singh, and filed through advocate Yugandhara Pawar Jha..The Central government had recently filed a modification application in the matter, following which the SCBA filed the present application. In its application, the Central government had contended that the new system, established after the Indira Jaising ruling, had resulted in the 'dilution' of the esteem, elegance and dignity that come with process of conferring designations.The Centre had, therefore, calling for a revert to the old system of performance-based evaluation by full courts followed by a secret ballot vote."The noble process of advocacy has been reduced to an ordinary job interview akin to an employee seeking promotion. Therefore, this process overlooks the legacy of this profession wherein traditionally 'silk' was awarded for extra-ordinary contributions to the bar and the profession."Further, grievance was raised by the Centre over the weightage on publications and interview of aspirants seeking designation. The practice of applying and campaigning was flagged as well. .Notably, the concluding paragraph of the 2017 Indira Jaising judgment had acknowledged that the framework laid down by the judgment was not comprehensive, and might need to be revisited based on knowledge gained through experience over time.A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Manoj Misra, and Aravind Kumar had noted on February 16 that there may be different issues in different High Courts, while adding that the issues arising out of the judgment's concluding paragraph would be taken up first.Another application in the matter was earlier moved by the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association (SCAORA), seeking directions for expediting the process of designating Senior Advocates to the top Court, noting that applications for the same were last invited in February 2022.The SCAORA application stated that pursuant to the 2017 judgment, the top court's Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates (CDSA) was required to meet at least twice a year. However, after 2019, the next round of applications was sought only in February 2022, and the latter is yet to be completed, it was pointed out.The next hearing in the matter is on February 22, Wednesday.