The All Assam Lawyer's Association (AALA) has written to the Acting Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court registering its protest against the recently notified list of new Senior Advocates..The letter to Justice N Kotiswar Singh, signed by AALA President David Ledger and General Secretary Dipak Kumar Das, alleges a series of irregularities in the designation process and accordingly seeks that the same be reviewed or cancelled. "From the aforesaid list it appears that a good number of advocates having more than 30 years practice have not found place in the list, for reasons not known to us. There are advocates in the list having more than 25 years of experience also unfortunately left our of consideration. When, as many of the advocates having less than 20 years of experience and without having any publication are also designated as Senior Advocates," the letter reads. .The legal fraternity is in 'shock and surprise' with the list and the fact that counsel not practicing in the Gauhati High Court's Principal Seat have made it as Seniors, the letter adds. Accordingly, it contends that the selection in this regard was made de hors the Supreme Court's judgment in Indira Jaising v. Union of India..AALA, which represents 30,000 advocates in the State, also pointed out that one lawyer designated as a Senior Advocate was not even enrolled with the Bar Council. It was contended that names of experienced advocates practising in the lower courts were not considered, which affects their right to equality. The Association alleged that some of the names in the list were junior counsel of those who were in the committee appointed to designate Seniors. In this regard, the letter states,"If that be true then a clear case of bias is manifested. It is high time that this Hon'ble Court immediately dispel such notion for betterment of the institution."Asserting that it was not pushing for particular candidates, but for the development of a free and competent Bar, the Association thus asked that the process be conducted in accordance with the Jaising guidelines in the interest of a fair judiciary. .In the Indira Jaising judgment, the Supreme Court laid down the following criteria for designation of Senior Advocates:Senior designations will henceforth go through a rigorous three-tier process.There would be a Permanent Committee for each court, to be known as Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates.All applications for designation would go to the Permanent Committee, which will be composed of the Chief Justice, two senior most judges (of the Supreme Court or High Court as the case may be), Attorney General/Advocate General (as the case may be) and an eminent member of the Bar nominated by the aforesaid four members.The Committee will have a permanent Secretariat. All applications received by Committee will be sent to the Secretariat for consideration.The Secretariat will consider integrity of the applicant, pro-bono work, reported judgments etc. while processing the applications. It will also invite suggestions from other stakeholders regarding the candidates before sending its report to the Committee.The Permanent Committee will then interview the candidates and examine their suitability depending on certain criteria which will be point based. The following are the criteria:Years of practice (10 points for 10 to 20 years of practice and 20 points for practice beyond 20 years)Judgments, reported and unreported (40 points)Publications (15 points)Personality/Suitability on the basis of interaction/ interview (25 points)Income would be no bar for designation and ten-years practice is a minimum qualification for applying for the gown.After the Permanent Committee assesses the suitability, it will forward its list to the Full Court, which will take the final call.The concerned Full-Court will not normally resort to voting by secret ballot, unless absolutely necessary, and can review decisions.