Supreme Court Adjourns Plea Challenging System Of Designating Senior Advocates
The Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Aravind Kumar of the Supreme Court today adjourned to Friday, the plea seeking a declaration that the designation of Advocates as Senior Advocates is unconstitutional, as being violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
At the outset, the Bench asked the Petitioner Mathews J. Nedumpara, an Advocate appearing as a party in person, as to how the Supreme Court of India could be made a party through the judges.
The Petitioner has arrayed the Chief Justice of India -represented by the Secretary General of the Supreme Court as the 2nd Respondent and the "Full Court of the Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court of India" as the 3rd Respondent.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul remarked that "you have been practising for 40 years, how do you implead 2nd and 3rd respondents? How can the Supreme Court be impleaded in such a way? First, amend the memo of parties. I will not accept a cavalier approach to this Court. You can implead the Supreme Court through the Registrar."
To this, the Petitioner-in-person responded that he could justify the same. The Judge then reprimanded the counsel and stated that "if you don't want to amend it then argue".
The Petitioner Mathews J. Nedumpara submitted that "Respondent No.3 is the full court and it may be deleted right away". To this, Justice Kaul responded that "you can implead the Supreme Court through Registrar". The Court further said that "we are of the view Respondent No.2 and 3 cannot be the party, if the Supreme Court has to be made party, it be through the Registrar. The matter be not listed until the memo of party is amended. You amend it today and we will list it".
Further, Justice Kaul while commenting on the merits of the petition, asked the Petitioner how he can assail a 3-judge Bench's judgement under Article 32 and told him that he will have to persuade the Court that the issue should be referred to a five judges' Bench. "Otherwise, we are bound by the order of the three judges' Bench", the Court said.
Upon the assurance of the Petitioner-in-person to amend the memo, the Bench ordered that the matter be listed on March 24 if the memo of parties is amended.
The writ petition states that the designation of Senior Advocates has created a class of Advocates with special rights, and the same has been seen as reserved only for the kith and kin of judges and Senior Advocates, politicians, ministers etc., resulting in the legal industry being "monopolised".
"A special class of advocates with special rights, privileges and status not available to ordinary advocates, is unconstitutional, being violative of the mandate of equality under Article 14 and the right to practice any profession under Article 19, as well as the right to life under Article 21," the plea says and it alleges that due to this system, a vast majority of meritorious law practitioners are left behind as ordinary plebeians receiving discriminatory treatment in the Courts.
The plea compares senior designation to that of Queen's counsel in 18th century England. "The conferment of the title of the King/Queen‟s counsel is the conferment of a title as a favour to lawyers who represented the Crown...The concept of Queen‟s Counsel is totally alien to India."
The matter was first mentioned before the Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, who agreed to list the matter for March 20, 2023.
Case Title: Mathews J. Nedumpara & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.