Supreme Court notifies Senior Designation Guidelines (ten months after its judgment) [Read Guidelines]

Supreme Court notifies Senior Designation Guidelines (ten months after its judgment) [Read Guidelines]

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court has notified the guidelines for designation of lawyers and advocates-on-record as Senior Advocates.

This comes pursuant to the directions contained in its own judgment in this regard in a petition by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising. It took the court ten long months to finalise the same.

The Guidelines are called “Supreme Court Guidelines to regulate Conferment of Designation of Senior Advocates, 2018”.

It provides for the establishment of a Permanent Committee known as the Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates.

The Committee’s composition is as follows:

  1. Chief Justice of India – Chairperson
  2. Two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court of India – Members
  3. Attorney General for India – Member
  4. A member of the Bar as nominated by the Chairperson and members as referred to in (a) to (c) above.

The Committee will meet twice a year and will have a permanent Secretariat the composition of which will be decided by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with the other members of the committee.

The committee is empowered to designate advocates

  1. Suo-moto or
  2. Pursuant to an application by an interested candidate.

Suo-moto designation

If the Chief Justice or any other judge is of the opinion that an advocate by virtue of his standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law is deserving of such distinction, the Chief Justice/ judge may recommend the name of the advocate in writing to the Secretariat to be considered for designation as Senior Advocate.

By application

An advocate-on-record or advocate or a retired judge of the High Court seeking senior gown will have to submit an application in the prescribed format to the Secretariat.

Every year, in the month of January and July, the Secretariat will invite such applications. The notice inviting such applications will be published on the website of the Supreme Court of India.

At least 15 days’ time shall be given to file the applications.


An advocate shall not be eligible for designation as Senior Advocate unless:

  1. he/ she has 10 years combined standing as an advocate or a District & Sessions Judge or as a judicial member of any tribunal in India whose qualification for eligibility for such appointment is not less than that prescribed for appointment as District Judge or;
  2. he/ she has been a Chief Justice or a judge of a High Court


On receipt of such applications from advocates, advocates-on-record or suo-moto application by CJI or any Supreme Court judge, the Secretariat will compile the relevant data with regard to the candidate including integrity, reputation, conduct, participation in pro-bono work, judgments in which the concerned candidate appeared etc.

The Secretariat will also publish the proposal for designation of the candidate on the Supreme Court website inviting suggestions from stakeholders.

At least 15-days’ time will be given to the stakeholders to submit their suggestions.

After the above data is compiled by the Secretariat, the same shall be put up before the Committee for its scrutiny.

The Committee will then evaluate each candidature in the light of the data provided by the Secretariat, interview/ interact with each candidate and make its overall assessment based on the point-based format given below.

  1. Number of years of practice (10 points for 10 to 20 years of practice and 20 points for practice beyond 20 years) – 20 points
  2. Judgments in which the candidate appeared and argued – 40 points
  3. Publications – 15 points
  4. Test of personality and suitability on the basis of interview/interaction – 25 points

All the names that are listed before the committee/ cleared by the committee will then go to the Full Court. However, with respect to retired Chief Justices/ Judges of High Courts, the names will directly go to the Full Court.

The Full Court will then vote on each candidate. Voting by secret ballot will not be normally resorted to except when it is unavoidable.

Cases which are not cleared by the Full Court will be reviewed after the expiry of two years with the same procedure being followed afresh.

Cases which have been deferred by the Committee shall not be considered till the expiry of one year from the date of deferment.

The Final decision of the Full Court will be communicated individually to the applicants.

Withdrawal of Senior Gown

If a Senior Advocate is found guilty of conduct which according to the Full Court disentitles the concerned Senior Advocate to continue to be worthy of designation, the Full Court may review its decision to designate the person and may recall the same.

The concerned person will be given an opportunity to be heard before any action is taken in this regard.

Read the guidelines below.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news