Madras High Court on Monday raised the bar for designating the lawyers as senior advocates and made Madras HC Designation of Senior Advocates Rules 2020 effective. From now on, senior advocates are prohibited to provide direct consultation to the litigants.
Senior advocates used to enjoy the special privileges under the Advocates Act, 1961 which includes the preferential right of audience in every court, wear special robes, and other special rights.
The criteria or qualifications to be designated as a senior advocate under Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocates 2020 includes
- The advocate must be ordinarily practicing in the Madras HC or its Madurai bench or other subordinate courts and must have attained the age of 45 years with a standing of not less than 10 years in the bar preceding the date of the application submission.
- He/She should provide the income tax return details of the past 10 years of service.
- Advocate must exhibit the distinction and eminence of the acumen and legal knowledge. He/she is also expected to maintain the integrity, reputation, and ethical behaviour inside and outside the court premises.
- Applicant must have credited at least 15 judgment in the preceding five years which contributed to the growth of law.
Madras High Court signified three modes of proposal submission for the designation of the senior advocates.
- Chief Justice or any senior judge of the High Court can write a recommendation for a deserving advocate after the due assessment.
- Two senior advocates, who had a standing in that capacity for a minimum of 15 years, can also write a recommendation for the designation of a senior advocate.
- A lawyer fulfilling all the criteria can apply for being a senior advocate with an endorsement of two senior advocates with 15 years of standing.
Proposals made to the Permanent secretariat for the designation of senior advocates shall be submitted before the Permanent Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates Chief Justice, next two judges in the order of seniority, the Advocate General and one nominated member from the bar.
The committee will then assess the secretariat submissions and may also have an interaction with the candidate in person before presenting the recommendations with specific remarks and observations before the full court (a body consisting of all judges).
The proposal will be there on the High Court website, in order to invite suggestions, views, and verifiable documents over the proposals within 30 days. It has been clearly mentioned that anonymous or pseudonymous suggestions to the secretariat will not be entertained. Only submission with full name and address of the addressor will be considered.
2020 rules for the designation of senior advocates states, “Voting by secret ballot will not normally be resorted to by the Full Court except when unavoidable.” It also signifies that the decision will be taken following the majority of the votes and if there is a tie, Chief Justice has the power of the second and casting vote.
The full court is also having the power to withdraw the designation in case a senior advocate is found guilty of professional misconduct, moral turpitude, and contempt of court after complying with the principles of natural justice.
Special Restrictions Imposed on Senior Advocates under Madras HC Designation of Senior Advocates rules, 2020
- After an advocate gets designated as a senior advocate, he/she must not give legal consultation to any litigant directly.
- A designated senior advocate shall not file a Vakalat or memo of appearance for appearing before any court or tribunal without being assisted by another advocate.
- With an old stipulation being effective in 2020 rules also, a senior advocate shall not be a standing counsel for any government or Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).
- New rules also prohibit senior advocated from seeking adjournments or mentioning any case before the court seeking an early hearing. This job can be performed only by their junior advocate or instructing counsel.