Saturday, May 27, 2017

Delhi HC Dismisses Challenge To Designation Of Senior Advocates

The Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra, noted that the Petitioner was aware of pendency of a similar challenge before the Supreme Court, and observed, “The Constitutional challenge to the statutory provisions raised herein, admittedly pending consideration before the Larger Bench of the Supreme Court of India, the present writ petition filed as if in public interest with full knowledge thereof, is nothing more than an irresponsible attempt at seeking publicity, unnecessarily multiplying litigation in complete disregard of its impact of wastage of precious judicial time. If so advised, the petitioner could have intervened in the pending cases. The present writ petition cannot be entertained before this court.”

The Court was hearing a Petition filed by Advocate Rohini Amin, challenging Section 16 and 23(5) of the Advocate Act, 1961, as violative of the equality of opportunity as granted under Article 16 of the Constitution of India. While Section 16 of the Act classifies Advocates into Senior and other Advocates, Section 23(5) provides Senior Advocates with the right of pre-audience over other advocates.

The Court however noted that the Petitioner had made “general sweeping allegations without making a single assertion on which the relief prayed for could be granted.” 

It further noted that the Supreme Court is currently hearing a Petition filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, challenging the non-transparent and arbitrary method of designation of Senior Counsel by the Supreme Court. The Apex Court had in March issued notice to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court, Advocate on Record Association, and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), on Ms. Jaising’s plea to not designate any lawyer as a Senior Advocate till the Court’s final decision. The matter had earlier been referred to a larger Bench by a Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Taking note of this Petition, the High Court dismissed Ms. Amin’s Petition and observed, “Thus, the petitioner who is a practicing advocate as well as ld. counsel representing her are fully aware of the matters and orders passed by the Supreme Court which stand annexed to the present writ petition. Despite knowledge of the fact that the challenge pressed by the petitioner is already the subject matter of challenge in the prior petition which is listed before the Supreme Court, this writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before this court raising an identical challenge.”

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