CUTTACK: The controversy over designation of five lawyers as senior advocates took a new legal turn on Monday with the Orissa High Court striking down its own rule in the connection.The division bench of Justice CR Dash and Justice Pramath Patnaik declared the sub-rule (9) of Rule-6 of High Court of Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocates) Rules, 2019 as ultra vires. “The sub-rule (9) of Rule-6 of the High Court of Orissa (Designation of Senior Advocate) Rules, 2019 is declared as ultra vires of the guidelines/norms framed by the Supreme Court,” the bench ruled.The ruling assumes significance as the Full Court of the High Court had unanimously resolved to designate five applicants as senior advocates in exercise of the power under sub-rule (9) of Rule-6 of 2019 Rules.
On August 19, 2019, necessary notification was issued designating the five lawyers as senior advocates. Sub-rule (9) of Rule 6 says, “Notwithstanding the above noted procedure for designation of an advocate as senior advocate, a Full Court on its own can designate a senior advocate even without any proposal from Hon’ble Judges or application from the advocate if it is of the opinion that by virtue of his/her ability or standing at the Bar the said advocate deserves such designation”.Controversy had sparked off with two advocates challenging the August 19, 2019 notification as it was issued after receiving 48 responses to a notification inviting applications for designation of senior advocates.
While not striking down the August 19, 2019 notification, the bench said, “The notification shall have effect till a fresh decision is taken by the Full Court regarding designation of senior advocate on consideration of all 48 applications including that of the five advocates designated as senior advocates”.
The bench set July-end as deadline for completion of the process of designating senior advocates.
On September 4, 2019, the High Court had issued another notification calling fresh applications from the eligible lawyers to be designated as senior advocates after issuing the August 19, 2019 notification.
While quashing the September 4, 2019 notification, the bench said, “In our considered view, after the first notification, when the process under Rule- 6 was on, it was irregular on the part of the High Court to issue the notification dated 04.09.2019 . Instead of expanding the ambit of selection process, it put the selection process into more confusion. We are, therefore, of the view that issuance of notification dated 04.09.2019 is not valid in the eye of law.”