Mathews J. Nedumpara & Ors. V/S Union Of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (C) No.320 Of 2023]
The three judges bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice C.T. Ravikumar and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that the pleadings of petitioner are almost reckless in character. The vast number of first-generation lawyers who attained prominence and were designated as Senior Advocates are sought to be ignored – something which has grown over a period of time. We say the pleadings are reckless because it has sought to be made out as if the legal profession in India has long been feudalistic and a monopoly of certain higher castes and certain families.
The petitioners, practicing Advocates, have filed the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India for a declaration that the designation of Advocates as Senior Advocates under Sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act, 1961 as well as under Rule 2 of Order IV of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, 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 Artilce14 and Right to Practice any Profession under Article 19 as well as Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The say of petitioner is that we cannot borrow the concept from Roman Law or England, which was feudal in character, as, in England, the concept of Queen’s Counsel representing the crown came into existence in the 18th Century.
“The test of Constitutional validity of law is stated to be actual impact and reality. Petitioner no.1 does not stop at blaming successful lawyers or, for that matter, the Judges but seems to paint everybody with the same brush, alleging even powerful politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats have the clout to get their kith and kin appointed as Judges and Senior Advocates”, the court said.
The bench found the pleadings completely devoid of merit and justification, making allegations against all and sundry.
It was observed by the court that this is more so in the conspectus of the large growth in the legal profession where a large number of firstgeneration lawyers have made their mark. These lawyers, some of them young ones, have come from National Law Schools and other prominent Law Schools. Instead of appreciating their contribution, petitioner No.1 has used his usual style of making allegations against all and sundry.
The Apex court further observed that the constitutional validity of a specific provision cannot be challenged in abstract, but when the provisions violate any fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III or contravenes any provision of the Constitution, or the legislature lacks law-making competence. If a provision violates a fundamental right, such a violation must directly and inevitably affect the people and cannot be premised on an ostensible use of violation of the provision.
The court said that the classification of advocates under Section 16 of the said Act is a tangible difference established by the practice advocates have over decades, and the Court has devised a discernible and transparent mechanism to adjudicate the seniority of advocates in the profession.
It further stated that the designation as a Senior Advocate is a recognition of merit by the Court, and the two judgments passed in Indira Jaising cases have endeavoured to make the process more transparent.
The court came to the conclusion that the writ petition is a misadventure largely of petitioner No.1 in continuation of some of his past misadventures.