Appointment of senior advocates challenged

The high court on Friday ordered emergent notices to the Centre, the high court registrar general, the committee for designation of senior advocates of the High Court of Karnataka and 17 newly appointed senior advocates while hearing a petition challenging their appointment as senior advocates.

A division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and PS Dinesh Kumar was hearing a petition filed by T N Raghupathy, an advocate, seeking directions to quash the high court notification dated November 16, 2018, designating 18 advocates as senior advocates.

The petitioner has contended that 68 advocates had filed applications for the post of senior advocates. According to the guidelines, the committee was supposed to assess the personality and suitability of the advocates concerned and also award marks under different heads.

He added that in the present case, the committee conducted the interview of the advocates like a selection process. It appears to have asked questions to the advocates at its whims and fancy. Also, the committee appears to have cleared names of 18 advocates and eliminated the names of 50 others.

The petitioner contended that only those 18 applications were placed before the full court, and the full court seems to have accepted these names and the high court registrar general has now designated these 18 persons as senior advocates, out of whom one senior advocate recently passed away.

The petitioner said the registrar general has lost sight of the fact that the high court is the supreme authority in designating an advocate as a senior advocate. The committee should only assist the full court in selecting advocates suitable for designation. But in this case, the committee has taken the role of an appointing authority which is improper and contrary to the guidelines. 

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