The Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocate Rules of 2020 prohibits the designated Senior Advocates from seeking adjournments or mentioning any case before the court seeking early hearing.
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HC raises the bar for designation of lawyers as Senior Advocates
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 27 JULY 2020 00:42 IST
UPDATED: 27 JULY 2020 00:42 IST
Rules that they shall not seek adjournments and make mentions for early hearing of cases
The Madras High Court has raised the bar for its lawyers to be designated as Senior Advocates, who enjoy privileges such as a preferential right of audience in all courts according to seniority, wear special robes and exercise other rights conferred under the Advocates Act of 1961.
The Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocate Rules of 2020 prohibits the designated Senior Advocates from seeking adjournments or mentioning any case before the court seeking early hearing. Only their junior advocates or instructing counsel can perform such jobs. A permanent secretariat would be established in the High Court for dealing with designation of Senior Advocates and every proposal for designation would be published on the High Court website inviting views and suggestions, along with verifiable materials, within 30 days. However, it has been made clear that the secretariat would not receive any anonymous or pseudonymous petitions or views and only such submissions, views or suggestions submitted in writing with full name and address of the addressor, would be entertained.
Lawyers above 45 years of age and with a standing of not less than 10 years in the Bar would be considered for the designation. They should submit income tax returns for the last 10 years and exhibit distinction and eminence for legal acumen and special knowledge.
Integrity, reputation and high ethical standards, both inside and outside the court, would form part of the selection criteria and they should have at least 15 judgments, in the preceding five years, where they had contributed to the growth of law.
Three different modes of proposal for such designation have been contemplated under the rules. Firstly, either the Chief Justice or any permanent judge of the High Court could make a written recommendation after a due assessment that an advocate deserves such designation. Secondly, any two Senior Advocates, who had a standing in that capacity for a minimum of 15 years, could make a similar recommendation. Thirdly, a lawyer fulfilling the age and other criteria could make an application endorsed by two Senior Advocates with 15 years of standing.
Such proposals made to the permanent secretariat shall be placed before a Permanent Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates consisting of the Chief Justice, next two judges in the order of seniority, the Advocate General and one nominated member from the Bar.
The permanent committee would assess each proposal on the basis of the materials submitted by the secretariat and may even interact with the advocate concerned for an overall assessment before placing its recommendations with specific remarks to the Full Court (a body consisting of all judges).
“Voting by secret ballot will not normally be resorted to by the Full Court except when unavoidable. The decision shall be carried by a majority. However, in case of a tie, the Chief Justice shall have a second and casting vote,” the 2020 rules state.
They also make it clear that any proposal not considered favourably would be reviewed or reconsidered only after two years and not before that. After being designated, a Senior Advocate must not give consultation directly to any litigant.
He/she should not file a Vakalat or memo of appearance for appearing before any court or tribunal without being assisted by another advocate. The new rules also contain the old stipulation that Senior Advocates should not be a standing counsel for any government or public sector undertaking.
The rules further empower the Full Court to withdraw the designation if a Senior Advocate was found guilty of any professional misconduct, moral turpitude or contempt of court. Such withdrawal could be made after complying with the principles of natural justice.