SC may refer matter on senior advocates to HC

The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it may refer to the Karnataka High Court (HC) to adjudicate a plea contending violation of norms and rules in conferment of senior advocates’ designation to 15 lawyers in Bengaluru.

A bench of justices A R Dave and Kurian Joseph, however, reserved its order on the maintainability of the petition filed by practicing advocates T N Raghupathy and M Veerabhadraiah and others.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Karnataka High Court’s registrar general and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam for other respondent contended that it was wrong to say that the judges in the High Court were not competent to deal with the issue.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the respondents, submitted that it would be great disservice to the High Court if it was not allowed to hear the plea.
The petitioners had sought transfer of all pending matters challenging conferment of senior advocates’ designations.

Taking their plea into consideration, the bench said, “We will ask the High Court to hear the matter on merit. There are umpteen number of examples where the decision taken on administrative by the HC are set aside by the HC on judicial side.”

The court, however, reserved its order. It had earlier on September 15 issued notice to the Centre and the Karnataka High Court’s registrar general over grant of senior advocates’ designation to 15 lawyers.

BCI response sought
The court had sought response also from the Bar Council of India and the 15 designated senior advocates.

Raghupathy filed a special leave petition challenging the HC’s questioning his locus standi in the matter. Veerabhadraiah, however, approached the apex court by seeking transfer of the pending matter before the HC.

Both the petitioners contended that the full court of the HC in its administrative capacity decided to go ahead with the decision to grant senior advocates designation to 15 lawyers even though the draft rules for the purpose were yet to be finalised.

They have challenged the notifications issued on June 30 and July 14 issued by registrar general of the HC for the purpose. The HC is empowered under the Advocates Act, 1961 to grant status of senior advocates to lawyers.

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