SC Bar Association constitutes ‘search committee’ on HC judges

The panel is set to identify apex Court lawyers who could be considered for the post of high court judges

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has constituted a “search committee” to identify Supreme Court lawyers who could be considered for the post of high court judges.

Under the present system, advocates practising in the high courts and having a minimum experience of 10 years are considered for elevation as high court judges.

However, the SCBA feels that Supreme Court lawyers with “vast experience” in different fields of law should also be considered for elevation as judges of high courts. No criteria have been planned yet.

The SCBA has constituted a “search committee” comprising its president Vikas Singh, vice-president Mahalakshmi Pavani and four eminent members of the Bar — senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi, Shekhar Naphade, Vijay Hansaria and V. Giri — to facilitate the process of elevation “by identifying deserving and meritorious Supreme Court practitioners”.

In a letter to the SCBA members on Tuesday evening, Singh, himself a senior lawyer, said he had also raised the issue of elevation of Supreme Court lawyers as judges of high courts with Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana.

“Elevation of the lawyers practicing in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has always been a concern of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

“In spite of having vast experience and exposure in dealing with all kinds of issues relating to civil, criminal, constitutional, commercial law, etc, the lawyers practising in the Supreme Court are rarely considered for elevation by the high court collegium as they do not regularly practice in the high courts. While these Supreme Court lawyers are professionally more meritorious than their colleagues at the high court, they miss out on the opportunity of being considered as high court judges,” Singh said.

Since 2014, Supreme Court lawyers are considered for elevation as judges of the top court.

Singh said that on behalf of the executive committee of the SCBA he had made a representation to Justice Ramana on May 31, putting across the concerns of the members of the association with regard to their elevation to the high courts. Singh had also suggested a transparent mechanism to institutionalise the appointments, which will also help in filling up the large number of vacancies in the high courts.

“It was also emphasised that there are a large number of lady advocates practising in the Supreme Court who are to be considered for elevation, but the high courts do not recommend them on the plea that there are not enough lady lawyers fit for elevation,” the SCBA president said, while referring to his meeting with Justice Ramana.

Singh said that Justice Ramana had agreed to the request made by the SCBA and requested the chief justices of the high courts to consider lawyers practising in the Supreme Court for elevation to the high courts.

Singh said: “…I sincerely believe that every lawyer practising in India is a citizen of India and therefore should be fairly considered for elevation on the basis of merit alone, no matter where he or she practises. We are hopeful that immediate action in view of the large vacancies in the high courts is taken.”

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