The Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHCAA) has vigorously sought for the abolition of Senior Advocates by challenging Section 16 of the Advocates Act, 1961 which splits them into Senior / Other Advocates.
- Indira Jaising has filed a case challenging the Senior designation process and GHCAA president Asim Pandya appeared and argued for the Association.
- The Bench of Justices for hearing this matter comprise of Ranjan Gogoi, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Navin Sinha.
- Attorney General KK Venugopal, Indira Jaising (the petitioner) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President RS Suri also made their submissions.
- The court has reserved its verdict, after the conclusion of its hearings.
Earlier, Pandya had argued that Section 16 violates Articles 14 and 18 of the Constitution.
After Pandya’s submissions, Mathews Nedumpara argued on behalf of The National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms.
The Attorney General KK Venugopal then made his submissions countering Pandya’s submissions, particularly about Article 14. He also said that the monetary benefits made by Senior Advocates are incidental and while the Senior designation helps expand their practice, they also had to give up some of the benefits they enjoyed earlier.
Following Venugopal’s submission, the SCBA president RS Suri made submissions on the Association’s behalf. He said that SCBA recommends a committee that takes nominees from the Bar to screen applications for the Senior/Gown. Interestingly, Suri also made a case for considering applicants from geographically distant places as this will strengthen the quality of Bar in such places. His studied opinion was that uniform standards must be applied across High Courts and the Supreme Court.
Eventually, appearing on behalf of the Supreme Court, Advocate ADN Rao’s submission was that Senior designations cannot be a subject matter of challenge.
The issue of 15 pending applications for the Senior designation/Gown was raised by SCBA Secretary Gaurav Bhatia during the hearing, to which Justice Nariman indicated that the judgment will be delivered soon.
The court then went on to reserve its judgment.