Supreme Court to examine whether Senior Advocates designation process needs to be revisited (again)

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While hearing pleas seeking designation of Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court and High Courts without delay, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that it will first consider if its 2017 judgment in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India needs to be revisited.

The 2017 judgment had introduced a framework for the designation of Senior Advocates in High Courts.

The concluding paragraph of the verdict acknowledged that the framework 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 on Thursday noted that there may be different issues in different High Courts, and said that the issue arising out of the judgment’s concluding paragraph will be taken up first.

“There may be individual issues in different High Courts. At first, the issue arising out of the judgment alone will be taken up, to see if anything survives as to that aspect,” the Court said.

It thus directed counsel appearing for various bar associations to file synopses on the experiences of various High Courts, and listed the matter for further hearing on February 22.

The Court was hearing a batch of pleas regarding the process of Senior Counsel designations.

Among them is an application moved by the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association (SCAORA) seeking a direction to the Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates (CDSA) to conclude without delay the process of designating Senior Advocates to the top court from applications that were invited in February 2022.

The SCAORA application states that pursuant to the 2017 judgment in the case of Indira Jaising, the Supreme Court had framed the Supreme Court Guidelines to Regulate Conferment of Designation of Senior Advocate, 2018.

Under the same, the 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 landmark judgment dealing with the issue of Senior designations laid down criteria which are applicable to the Supreme Court and all High Courts.

As per the guidelines, there would be a CDSA for each court and all applications for designation would go to the Permanent Committee comprising the Chief Justice, two senior most judges, the Attorney General/Advocate General and an eminent member of the Bar nominated by the other four members.

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