Plea challenging designation of lawyers as senior advocates dismissed by Supreme Court [16.10.2023]

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition challenging the designation of lawyers as senior advocates.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul delivered its verdict on a plea filed by advocate Mathews J Nedumpara and seven others.

The petitioners had challenged sections 16 and 23 (5) of the Advocates Act, 1961, claiming these "creates two classes of lawyers, senior advocates and other advocates, which in actual practice has resulted in unthinkable catastrophe and inequities which Parliament certainly would not have contemplated or foreseen".

While section 16 of the Advocates Act pertains to senior and other advocates, section 23 (5) says senior advocates shall have pre-audience over other lawyers and their right of pre-audience inter se shall be determined by their respective seniority.

The plea had claimed that designation of lawyers as senior advocates, which is "creating a special class of advocates with special rights, privileges and status not available to ordinary advocates, is unconstitutional, being violative of the mandate of equality under Article 14".

16 Oct 2023