July 3, 2021 6:33:21 am
A group of advocates have filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court challenging a notification of the Punjab & Haryana High Court designating 19 lawyers as Senior Advocates. The matter is expected to come up for hearing next week.
Advocates Amar Vivek Aggarwal, Krishan Kumar Gupta, and Harbhajan Singh Dhandi, through their counsel, Advocate Malak Manish Bhatt, have sought quashing of the notification dated May 28 of the high court and also setting aside the list of Senior Designations.
The High Court had earlier taken the decision at a Full Court meeting in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 16(2) of the Advocates Act 1961.
The petitioners have submitted that 113 applications for the Senior Advocate designation were received. However, it was “all of a sudden on May 19, 2021 that all the applicants” were surprisingly called physically to High Court premises [not minding curfew and lockdowns].”
It has been further submitted by the petitioners that “the Full Court resorted to secret voting, albeit without any exceptional circumstances or recording of reasons in writing, under Rule 11. Out of the list of 27 names, 18 were approved. Surprisingly, even without there being an agenda or in the absence of the bio-data, requisite material and synopsis etc. of 85 candidates being laid before the Full Court as mandated under Rule 10; qua the remaining 85 candidates, the Full court voted on the list of 112 names in a matter of minutes, and shortlisted one more candidate out of the remaining 85, who incidentally is the wife of a former judge, thereby raising more questions of neutrality.”
“Thus, fate of such 85 candidates, some of them with reasonable, consistent and good practice of 40 years, many of whom have been Additional Advocate Generals in the past and who have been waiting for last 7 years for senior designation, was summarily decided in a matter of 7 days from 19th May to 26th May,” the petitioners further contend.
The petitioners have contended that the high court violated the mandatory and binding directions of the Supreme Court and Rules 9 to 11 of the Rules framed by the High Court. The plea claimed that the final lists or recommendations were drawn illegally and not as per the marks/ranking and relative merit and thus the impugned notification is liable to be set aside.
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