Ms. Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India
Ms. Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2017 -
On 12th October, 2017, in the case of Ms. Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India through Secretary General and Ors. [Writ petition (C) No. 454 of 2015], a three Judge Bench held that “the exercise of the power vested in the Supreme Court and the High Courts to designate an Advocate as a Senior Advocate is circumscribed by the requirement of due satisfaction that the concerned advocate fulfills the three conditions stipulated under Section 16 of the Advocates Act, 1961, i.e., (1) ability; (2) standing at the bar; and/or (3) special knowledge or experience in law that the person seeking designation has acquired. It is not an uncontrolled, unguided, uncanalised power though in a given case its exercise may partake such a character. However, the possibility of misuse cannot be a ground for holding a provision of the Statute to be constitutionally fragile. The consequences spelt out by the intervener, namely, (1) indulgence perceived to be shown by the Courts to Senior Advocates; (2) the effect of designation on the litigant public on account of high fees charged; (3) its baneful effect on the junior members of the bar; and (4) the element of anti-competitiveness, etc. are untoward consequences occasioned by human failures. Possible consequences arising from a wrong/improper exercise of power cannot be a ground to invalidate the provisions of Section 16 of the Act.”
It was held that “so long as the basis of the classification is founded on reasonable parameters which can be introduced by way of uniform guidelines/norms to be laid down by this Court”, the power of designation conferred by Section 16 of the Act cannot be said to be constitutionally impermissible.
However, it was also held that “the credentials of every advocate who seeks to be designated as a 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.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court laid down norms/guidelines to henceforth “govern the exercise of designation of Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court and all High Courts in the country.”
The Bench, however, also observed that it was “not oblivious of the fact that the guidelines enumerated above may not be exhaustive of the matter and may require reconsideration by suitable additions/deletions in the light of the experience to be gained over a period of time” and this is a course of action that it has left open for consideration by the Supreme Court “at such point of time that the same becomes necessary.”