For lawyers number of cases won shouldn’t be basis of senior designation: attorney general
New Delhi: Attorney general K.K. Venugopal said on Thursday that lawyers should be designated as senior advocates only on the basis of merit and not because of the number of cases they have won.
Venugopal presented his submissions before the Supreme Court on lawyer Indira Jaising’s July 2015 petition seeking guidelines for according the designation of senior advocates.
Preceding the attorney general’s arguments, she said there were “enough discriminatory markers in the society already—caste being one of them—and that we do not need one more (in the form of senior advocate).”
Referring to the Bar Council of India Rules, she said that they ‘make no distinction between senior and junior advocates’ and that the system distinguishing between the two was a gift from the British system, common to the commonwealth countries. While the mother country had done away with this distinction, the Indian bar continues to uphold it in practice.”
Lawyers found to be lobbying for the tag of senior advocate should be disqualified from being designated as such, she said.
Venugopal said a lawyer should be designated as a senior advocate if by “virtue of his ability, standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law, he is deserving of such distinction.”
The designation “carries with it an understanding and implication that he (the senior advocate) is extremely competent” in handling cases, Venugopal said. This, he said, “is not a rule of thumb, but a presumption.”
He submitted that the courts must award the designation sparingly because through it they “certify that a particular counsel performs his job better than the non-seniors.”
He emphasized that “if a senior advocate is found to be misleading the court or suppressing facts,” he should be disqualified from the designation.
He maintained that the number of cases an advocate has won cannot be the basis for awarding the designation.
“Maintaining high standards of integrity is an essential requirement and merit must not be judged by the number of cases an advocate has won,” he added.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on 29 August.
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