[dropcap]I[/dropcap]N a latest development pertaining to the senior designation process, a total of four advocates from Karnataka, namely Puttige R Ramesh, Bhat Ganesh Krishna, M H Sawkar and B L Acharya have approached the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of the notification dated November 16, 2018 of the High Court of Karnataka conferring distinction of senior designation upon 18 advocates. They had applied for the senior designation in pursuant to the notification of the High Court dated August 7, 2018 but could not succeed.
The Petitioners have stated in their plea that Permanent Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates constituted in pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India read with The High Court Of Karnataka (Designation Of Senior Advocates) Rules, 2018 had hastened the process of designation.
They claimed this in view of the fact that Supreme Court Collegium on October 29, 2018 had recommended the transfer of two senior judges of the High Court, including Justice Raghavendra Chauhan who was one of the members of the Permanent Committee, being the third senior-most sitting Judge of the High Court. Justice Chauhan was asked to take the charge of the judge of High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on or before November 22, 2018.
As a result, it reflects, Committee entirely overlooked the seniority/standing at the Bar of the large number of Advocates including the petitioners and recommended designation of juniors with far lesser credentials.
The process of selecting Senior Advocates ultimately turned out to be an exercise in choosing junior advocates, claim the Petitioners. Further, the foremost criterion governing the designation — namely, the standing at the Bar — was given a complete go-by and was totally ignored, according to the Petitioners. Many of the senior members of the Bar who had applied for designation and who enjoy very good reputation and command extensive and varied practice were left out, while many advocates of much higher standing and much better credentials were not recommended and were not designated as Senior Advocates and their claims were totally overlooked, write the Petitioners.
Finally, the Full Court was not allowed to exercise its independent assessment of the respective candidates and the report given by the Committee was made the sole criterion for deciding the issue, say the Petitioners in their plea before the Karnataka High Court.
Further, it is said that the Petitioners have strong reason to believe that the said Committee awarded points under the respective heads in an arbitrary and irrational manner. It is alleged that the Committee did not take into consideration the relevant and germane materials for the purpose of making assessment of the claims of the Petitioners. It has also been claimed that the Committee was swayed by irrelevant and extraneous considerations in the matter of making assessment while making its recommendation to the Full Court, according to the Petition.
The Petitioners have also highlighted in their plea that the Secretariat constituted under the said Rules of 2018 merely published the names of the 68 applicants who had applied for the senior designation, without giving any details whatsoever and called for the other stakeholders’ suggestions/views regarding the applicants. Also the information furnished by the respective applicants was not published on the official website of the High Court.
It may be noted that present acting Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, L Narayana Swamy, had proposed the name of one of the advocates for senior designation. Further, the then sitting judge, Justice R B Budihal, had proposed the name of an advocate named Bhagwat M S. His name was also proposed by the Advocate General Udaya Holla. Both of them had not been designated seniors as they apparently failed to score in the 100 Points Index.