Attorney General for India KK Venugopal yesterday suggested that the Supreme Court of India adopt a practice followed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for hearing of cases.
Venugopal was referring to the practice followed in the Apex Court of our neighbouring country where only one counsel at a time can address the Court from the podium placed in the middle of the Courtroom. The Attorney General suggested that the same be followed in the Supreme Court of India as well, as opposed to the present situation, where sometimes multiple lawyers seek to make their submissions at once.
This discussion arose before the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, which was hearing the batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Yesterday’s hearing saw a battery of lawyers – appearing for over 60 petitioners – on their legs before the Court, attempting to make submissions at the same time. After Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal tried to get some Counsel to stop making their submissions while the judges were posing questions, the Court engaged in a dialogue on this subject.
CJI Bobde, evidently exasperated with the parallel submissions by multiple lawyers, said that in the United Kingdom, only one counsel is allowed to address the Court at a time. At this point, AG Venugopal told the Court that the same practice was followed in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. This led to peals of laughter in the Courtroom.
“It is in Pakistan Supreme Court. I have been there. There is a lactern in the middle and only one lawyer can address the Court… unlike here where ten people speak at the same time.”
The AG added that the same lawyers who indulge in this conduct before the Supreme Court are in fact far more “disciplined” when they argue in the High Courts.
“This is perhaps the only Court where so many lawyers speak at once… it does not happen anywhere else.”
The Court proceeded to continue hearing the matter, not before CJI Bobde remarked that it is now for the lawyers to give a thought to their conduct, considering even one of the senior-most law officers has raised the issue of discipline.