A number of lawyers practising at the Madras High Court are set to get designated as ‘Senior Advocate’ as a Full Court (all judges) meeting has been convened on Wednesday to finalise the names from among 81 candidates shortlisted by a committee headed by Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) T. Raja.
State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran, T.S.R. Venkataramana, V. Raghavachari, Krishna Srinivasan, T. Lajapathi Roy, R.C. Paul Kanagaraj, V.R. Kamalanathan, V. Ramesh, G. Karthikeyan, T. Mohan, S.R. Rajagopal, A.K. Sriram, Srinath Sridevan, Abudu Kumar Rajaratnam and Abdul Saleem are among those shortlisted. Three women lawyers A.L. Ganthimathi, Dakshayani Reddy and Narmadha Sampath too, have made it to the list.
The Full Court will take a call on individual candidates by way of a majority and in case of a tie, the ACJ will have the second and casting vote. Voting by secret ballot will be resorted to only in unavoidable circumstances.
Lawyers with a minimum standing of 10 years in the Bar and those who have exhibited distinction and eminence for legal acumen besides maintaining integrity, reputation and high ethical standards are eligible to this designation. On being designated, they will enjoy privileges such as preferential right of audience and the right to wear special robes.
After being designated, the lawyers may not give consultations to any litigant directly, and may not file Vakalat (authorisation given by a client to a lawyer to represent him/her in court) in their names. The designated ‘Senior Advocate’ should always be engaged by other lawyers to argue cases and should not seek adjournments in any court.
The proposed designation would be the first since the High Court raised the bar for such a purpose and notified the The Madras High Court Designation of Senior Advocate Rules of 2020 which laid down elaborate procedures to assess the applicants’ calibre, merit, ability, academic distinction, character and conduct.
The 2020 Rules required the establishment of a permanent secretariat at the High Court to receive proposals, either from judges or existing Senior Advocates, or applications from eligible lawyers who had 15 judgements to their credit, in the preceding five years, where they had contributed to the growth of law.
Accordingly, the secretariat received 99 applications in response to a notification issued by it on September 16, 2020 and 76 applications following another notification issued on June 30, 2022.
The 175 applications were scrutinised by a permanent committee comprising the ACJ, two senior judges and Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram. The committee approved 149 (87 applicants from the 2020 list and 62 from 2022 list) eligible candidates and conducted interviews with them between November 16 and 23 this year. After the interviews, it shortlisted the names of 81 candidates.