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The Supreme Court on Friday fixed March 22 for final hearing of a plea seeking transparency and overhauling in the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Ashok Bhushan posted the matter for final hearing saying the issue required a detail hearing. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that due to the pending petition, the process of designating lawyers as senior has stopped in various high courts and no senior lawyer has been designated for past one-and-a-half years apart from retired judges of high courts and the Supreme Court.
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The bench which had earlier listed the matter for April 18, advanced the matter to March 22 after the AG’s submission. On January 2, the apex court had decided to hear afresh a plea seeking transparency and overhauling in the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. The apex court had also tagged with it a petition pending in the Delhi High Court which challenged the provisions of the Advocates Act relating to the designation of lawyers as senior advocates. It had said after the verdict in the matter was reserved, some lawyers had approached the apex court to intervene in the case and submitted that all have not been given a proper hearing on the issue.
The petition pending in the high court challenges the constitutional validity of sections 16 and 23 (5) of the Advocates Act, 1961 which provide the statutory basis for designation of lawyers as senior advocates.
The court had noted in its order that after it had reserved the judgement, an application was filed seeking recall of its October 21 last year order on two grounds, including that when the matter was taken up for hearing on that date, the bench did not fully hear submissions on behalf of various lawyers.
The second ground was regarding the petition pending before the high court challenging the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Advocates Act. The apex court is hearing a PIL filed by senior lawyer Indira Jaising seeking transparency and overhauling in the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates.