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The Supreme Court today issued notice to itself, SCBA, BCI and Attorney General among others in a PIL filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising. The PIL challenges the current procedure followed by the Supreme Court in designating advocates as seniors.
A three-judge Bench of Justices TS Thakur, Gopala Gowda and R Banumathi sought a reply following lengthy arguments advanced by a battery of senior counsel.
Apart from Jaising, seniors including Rajeev Dhavan, MN Krishnamani, Kapil Sibal and Shekhar Nephade were present all of whom pressed for notice.
When Jaising began her arguments, Justice Thakur asked her,
“The same process was adopted to designate you. Were you not designated by this court?”
“No your lordship. I was designated by my own High Court. It is not just about A, B, C, D not being designated. Supreme Court is one court, which does not have rules for designation. If such rules were in place, perhaps this petition would not have been filed.”
“Rules of various High Courts provide criteria for designation including number of cases argued, contribution to jurisprudence, contribution to legal aid etc. What prevents Supreme Court from framing rules in this regard?”
Justice Thakur countered that even if rules were in place, the same set of judges would be carrying out the task and expressed doubt as to whether it would make any difference.
Krishnamani then intervened saying that rules for designation will go a long way in bringing about transparency.
“One very disturbing aspect is lawyers go to High Courts, where they have never practised, get designated and come back here”, said Krishnamani.
Kapil Sibal also argued that the current voting system followed by the Supreme Court has led to lobbying.
Jaising then batted for ‘ethical lawyers’ who practice in niche areas like human rights, PIL and legal aid work etc. She argued that such lawyers are overlooked on most occasions because they don’t resort to lobbying.
“In the system of voting (by judges) it is the ethical lawyers who lose out because they don’t lobby. Those who are not ethical, lobby.”
All the senior lawyers present were, however, unanimous in their stand that they will not be challenging any individual designations and are seeking for a transparent procedure to be followed by the court for designating Seniors henceforth.
The court then proceeded to issue notice in the case.