Vacation courts should be for juniors, SC tells top lawyers | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday pushed top notch lawyers — A M Singhvi, Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal, each earning crores of rupees every month — to cede turf during summer breaks to provide opportunities to junior advocates to gain experience by arguing before the highest court.
When Sibal mentioned a mining company’s petition for urgent hearing, a vacation bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and B V Nagarathna said, “Don’t you think there are a good number of lawyers (juniors) who can persuade the judges for urgent listing, that too during vacation?”
Sibal agreed and said he was in favour of giving juniors a chance to mention cases for urgent listing and also argue cases during vacation. “But, what to do? There are too many dharnas outside my house (clients insisting that he argues their cases).” he said.
Next to be persuaded was Rohatgi, known for being at idyllic locations away from Delhi and yet arguing through video conference. Justice Rastogi said, “Why not give an opportunity to juniors, if you are busy somewhere else?” Determined to give chances to juniors, the bench used an indirect method and said, “We are sitting in court. Why would you not appear before us physically?”
Such is the client pressure on the senior advocate that rather than agreeing to assign the case to a junior, Rohatgi said he would come back to Delhi day after and appear before the court physically. The bench posted the case for hearing on Wednesday.
Singhvi’s turn came last. When the request was made, Singhvi said, “I am in favour of the bench’s suggestion provided that an uniform rule is made by the court that no senior advocate would be allowed to argue during vacation.” The bench said, “It should be a self-rule and popular senior advocates should exercise self-restraint.”
However, the bench insisted that Singhvi appeared physically before the court to argue the case and posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.
Justice N V Ramana, within two months of being appointed as CJI, had on August 21 last year echoed the same sentiments. He had said that a system of mentioning before the registrar for urgent listing of cases has been put in place to ensure parity between senior advocates and juniors. “We don’t want to give any special priority to seniors, and deprive juniors of their opportunities. So this system was made, where all can make a mention before the registrar,” he said.
Similar attempts were made by then CJI Dipak Misra in August 2017 by debarring senior advocates from mentioning cases for urgent listing and allowing only advocates-on-record, a special category of lawyers eligible to file cases in SC, to mention cases. This was later extended to junior advocates, but the seniors pushed their way in and the mechanism fizzled out.
Attorney general K K Venugopal is the lone exception. He has never argued a case before a vacation bench, preferring to travel to exotic locales during court vacations and leave the field open for his juniors.

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