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'Matter Pending Consideration Before Committee, Report To Be Furnished Within Next Few Weeks': Madras HC Defers Hearing Of Challenge To Senior Designation Rules

Aaratrika Bhaumik
21 Oct 2021 3:54 PM GMT
Matter Pending Consideration Before Committee, Report To Be Furnished Within Next Few Weeks: Madras HC Defers Hearing Of Challenge To Senior Designation Rules
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A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Madras High Court challenging the validity of Rules 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(b) of the Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2020, which stipulate a minimum age (45 years) and experience criteria for an advocate to be eligible to be designated as a Senior Advocate. A Bench comprising Chief Justice...

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A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Madras High Court challenging the validity of Rules 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(b) of the Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2020, which stipulate a minimum age (45 years) and experience criteria for an advocate to be eligible to be designated as a Senior Advocate. 

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu on Thursday stated that a committee had been constituted after a Full Court meeting to look into the grievance and that the Committee's report is likely to be furnished shortly. 

"Since the matter is pending consideration before a Committee constituted at a Full Court meeting and such Committee's report is likely to be furnished within the next few weeks, let this petition appear again on November 11, 2021", the order read. 

The Madras High Court had notified its Senior Designation Rules in July 2020. However, shortly after it came into force various concerns were raised regarding the minimum age cap of 45 years and the bar on Senior Advocates from mentioning, seeking adjournments among other allied concerns. 

The petition avers that the challenged provisions are contrary to the Supreme Court's dictum in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India and the 2018 guidelines issued by the Supreme Court for designation of Senior Advocates. 

It has been further submitted by the petitioners that as per the aforementioned Supreme Court guidelines, persons with ten years of experience at the Bar are eligible to apply for Senior Advocate designation. However, Rule 4(1)(a) of the Madras High Court Rules stipulates that an advocate should be at least 45 years of age to be eligible to apply for senior designation. Further, Rule 4(1)(b) requires that the applying advocate should have fifteen years combined experience as an advocate or as a District and Sessions Judge ,or as a Judicial Member of a Tribunal. 

Thus these Rules violate Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India as it creates a separate class that has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Rules, the petitioners further argued. 

In a related development, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had remarked on August 23, 2021 that the Supreme Court would consider issues related to the process of senior designation soon. He had also indicated that there would be "some developments" in this regard within a week or two. The CJI had made this statement when Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had mentioned before him an application filed by her with respect to the rules framed by certain High Courts for senior designation.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had moved an application in the Supreme Court in August 2020 seeking a declaration that the process adopted by certain High Courts to confer senior designations through the process of secret voting of the full court is "arbitrary and discriminatory".

The matter is slated to be heard next on November 11 after the constituted committee submits its report. 

Case Title: Rangasamy and Ors v. The High Court of Madras

Click Here To Read/Download Order 


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