Karnataka High Court issues notice in Senior Designations challenge

Aditya AK February 8 2019

The Karnataka High Court today issued notice to all respondents in a petition challenging the 18 Senior Designations recently made by the High Court.

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar issued notice in the petition filed by advocate TN Raghupathy.

The petition filed by Raghupathy claims that the Committee in charge of Senior Designations flouted the directions of the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising v. Union of India, by which it had prescribed guidelines for the designation of Senior Advocates.

It is stated that out of the 68 advocates who applied to become Senior Advocates, 18 were designated on the basis of a minimum mark of 50. Raghupathy points out that neither the Supreme Court guidelines, nor the Rules framed by the Karnataka High Court prescribe minimum marks for the purpose of elimination. It is also stated that the 18 names were accepted without debate.

“The Committee which interviewed the 68 Advocates appears to have set a minimum mark of 50 for recommending the name of the Applicant for their designation as Senior Advocate…Even as regards the 18 Advocates the High Court did not debate individual applications. Their names were simply accepted without formulation of opinion.”

As per the High Court Rules, 25 marks out of 100 are reserved for “test of personality and suitability”. In this light, the petition contends,

“The interview has to be only interaction to assess the personality and suitability of Advocates. In this case the petitioner learns that the committee interview the applicant as though it was a selection for the post of District Judges.”

Further, it is stated that the Supreme Court guidelines require the names of all applicants listed before the Permanent Committee to go before the Full Court. In this case, it is contended only those applicants who scored 50 marks or more were sent to the Full Court.

“The assessment by the Committee should only assist the full court in selecting the Advocates suitable for the designation. But unfortunately, in this case, the committee has taken the role of an appointing authority which is improper and contrary to the guidelines.”

The petition also contends that the Committee ignored the claims of advocates who have more than 30-40 years of experience, and that it appears to have designated the 18 advocates “on its whim and fancy”.

It is, therefore, prayed that the notification dated November 16, 2018 designating 18 lawyers as Senior Advocates be quashed, and that the High Court re-do the entire designation process keeping in mind Section 16(2) of the Advocates Act and the Supreme Court guidelines in Indira Jaising.

A similar petition challenging the 18 Senior Designations was filed last month by advocates whose applications were rejected.

Raghupathy had also challenged the Senior Designations made by the High Court in 2014.

Read the petition:

 

TN Raghupathy v. High Court of Karnataka
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