Supreme Court of India.

Supreme Court of India. , Photo Credit: Reuters

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on petitions to “fine-tune” a 2017 verdict which laid down guidelines for designation of lawyers as senior advocates.

Constitutional courts bestow ‘senior advocate’ status to lawyers as a recognition of their distinct ability in or specialized knowledge of law.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the six-year-old judgment needed reconsideration.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, on whose petition the verdict was delivered, objected that the government had no role in designating lawyers as senior advocates.

Besides, the government had, in all these years, never bothered to seek a review of the 2017 verdict.

“The fact is the Attorney General had assisted the court earlier. No issue was raised that it is not proper. The Union of India never filed a review petition,” the court noted.

On February 16, the top court had said that at this stage, it would only address the issue arising from the 2017 judgment which gave liberty to revisit the guidelines on the basis of experience so far.

The Supreme Court was earlier told that the October 2017 verdict had noted that the guidelines enumerated in it “may not be exhaustive of the matter and may require reconsideration by suitable additions/deletions in the light of the experience to be gained over a period of time”. “.

In May last year, the top court had modified one of its earlier directions and said the lawyers be allotted one mark each for a year of practice from 10 to 20 years while being considered for designation as senior advocates.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had agreed to consider pleas seeking declaration of the process adopted by some High Courts to confer the ‘senior’ designation to advocates through the process of secret voting of the full court as “arbitrary and discriminatory”.


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