Sub-rule (9) of Rule-6 of the High Court of Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocate) Rules, 2019 is ultra-vires: High Court of Orissa

Hon’ble the Supreme Court in paragraph- 73.4 of Indira Jaising case has ipse dixit not stated anything about the pick through suo motu source. Such silence in paragraph-73.4, according to our understanding is a conscious silence. Therefore, sub-rule(9) of Rule- 6 of “2019 Rules” is not in consonance with the said Judgment and ultra-vires of the guidelines/norms. This was held in Banshidhar Baug V. Orissa High Court, Represented though its Registrar General and others[W.P.(C) Nos. 17009 and 17110 of 2019] in the High Court of Orissa by the division bench consisting of JUSTICE CHITTA RANJAN DASH AND JUSTICE PRAMATH PATNAIK.

Facts are that the petitioners are four Advocates who aspire to be conferred with the designation of “Senior Advocate”. While the process of conferring designation of “Senior Advocate” was on in accordance with Rule-6 of High Court of Orissa Rules, 2019 the Hon’ble Full Court conferred the designation of “Senior Advocate” on five Advocates, who are Opposite Party Nos. 5 to 9, writ petitions have been filed against the same.

The Petitioners appearing in person submitted that the action of the Permanent Committee and the Hon’ble Full Court is violative of Article- 14 of the Constitution of India, “2019 Rules” and Section- 16(2) of the Advocates Act.

The counter affidavit filed by the Orissa High Court questioned the locus standi of the petitioners to file the writ petition and its maintainability. The designation of “Senior Advocate”, being not a “bounty”, “title” or “office” and the applications of the petitioners for being designated as “Senior Advocate” being still pending the writ petition is not maintainable being premature.

The Court made reference to the judgement of Apex court delivered in the case of Indira Jaising vs. Supreme Court of India, wherein the following observation had been made,“The sole yardstick by which we propose to introduce a set of guidelines to govern the matter is the need for maximum objectivity in the process so as to ensure that it is only and only the most deserving and the very best who would be bestowed the honour and dignity. The credentials of every advocate who seeks to be designated as Senior Advocate or whom the Full Court suo motu decides to confer the honour must be subject to an utmost strict process of scrutiny leaving no scope for any doubt or dissatisfaction in the matter.”

The court also made reference to paragraph 73 of the above-mentioned judgement, wherein it was held that, “It is in the above backdrop that we proceed to venture into the exercise and lay down the following norms/guidelines which henceforth would govern the exercise of designation of Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court and all High Courts in the Country. The norms/guidelines, in existence, shall be suitably modified so as to be in accord with the present”.

Considering the precedents and the facts of the case the court held that,  sub-rule (9) of Rule- 6 of the High Court of Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocate) Rules, 2019 is declared as ultra-vires of the guidelines/norms framed in paragraph- 73 of Indira Jaising case.

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