Kar HC | Assessment of permanent committee for designating Senior Advocates held to be reasonable and reliable; writ petitions filed by the members of the Bar rejected

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka and Mohammad Nawaz, JJ., rejected the writ petitions contested by the members of the Bar.

The challenge in this group of petitions was essential to the notification and the decision-making process followed for designating eighteen Advocates as Senior Advocates. Different writ petitions were filed which were clubbed together due to the nature of the petitions. One of the petitioners who was an advocate practicing in the Court for 44 years had stated in his petition that in an earlier occasion when certain Advocates were designated, he had filed petitions challenging the earlier two notifications issued by which, sixteen Advocates were designated as Senior Advocates but they were dismissed after which he had filed Special Leave Petitions, again the petitions were dismissed but the Apex Court had granted liberty to him to intervene in the writ petition filed by Indira Jaising in the Supreme Court. In the instant petition, he had prayed for quashing the impugned notification and for issuing a writ of mandamus to the High Court of Karnataka to do the entire exercise afresh, based on the applications already received and to issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ directing the Government of India to frame the Rules in exercise of the powers conferred on it under sub-section (2) of Section 16 of the

Advocates Act, strictly in conformity with the objects and purposes of the Advocates Act. Basically, all the writ petitions contained the same prayer. Statement of objections were filed on behalf of the High Court of Karnataka and the Permanent Committee raising an objection that petitioner could not maintain a writ petition in the nature of public interest litigation for challenging the impugned notification.

The Court while rejecting the petitions explained that as per the guidelines of the Apex Court issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Permanent Committee is required to make overall assessment on the basis of the points-based formula and such overall assessment was to be placed before the Full Court and there was no dispute that the interviews/interactions were made with an individual candidates from 22nd or 23rd October, 2018 to 3-10-2018. Therefore, there is nothing wrong if all of them were ready with their individual overall assessment on the basis of the points based format by 11-11-2018. Also, they stated that three members of the Permanent Committee were highest constitutional functionaries who had long experience of doing judicial and administrative work. The 4th member being the Advocate General had also a very rich experience and standing in the profession of law and even the 5th member was a distinguished Senior Advocate having long experience at the Bar, thus there stands no reason to interfere with their decision making process following which no directions can be issued to Union of India to frame the Rules for designation of Senior Advocates. [T.N. Raghupathy v. Karnataka High Court, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 93, decided on 31-01-2020]

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