DHCBA Writes to CJI Opposing SCBA's Proposal for Elevating SC Lawyers as HC Judges

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The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) Friday wrote to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana against the Supreme Court Bar Association’s proposal to consider apex court lawyers for elevation as high court judges, saying the practice would be unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory and create resentment among lawyers practicing in high courts. The DHCBA’s letter urged the CJI to withdraw such directives, if any, issued to the Chief Justices of High Courts that the lawyers practicing in apex court be considered for elevation as the high court judges at SCBA’s request, ” In a communication dated June 8, the SCBA claimed that the CJI has requested Chief Justices of all the high courts to consider apex court lawyers for elevation as HC judges but there was no official word from the office of the CJI.

After SCBA made the claim, persons, who are well versed with the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) dealing with appointment of judges in high courts, had said the selection of advocates for elevation to the high court benches is the sole prerogative of the high court collegium headed by the Chief Justices. The DHCBA, in a letter signed by its President Mohit Mathur and secretary Abhijat, wrote to the CJI opposing the SCBA’s proposal saying that such directions are not only unfair, arbitrary and discriminatory but likely to create resentment amongst a large number of lawyers in the High Courts.

This will lead to disgruntlement and demoralization of a large section of the Bar. We beseech your Lordship to withdraw such directives, if any, issued to the Chief Justices of the High Courts on the request of SCBA and for which we shall be eternally grateful, the DHCBA said. Besides this, the association expressed its disapproval over alleged comments of the SCBA that the lawyers practicing in the apex court are more meritorious than their colleagues practicing before the High Courts.

Claim made by the SCBA is not only false and misleading but undermines the competence and talent of lawyers practicing before the High Courts, the association said and added that the attempt to have lawyers practicing in SC alone be considered for such distinction is disturbing. It asked, If that be the criteria then why not meritorious lawyers practicing in courts subordinate to the High courts be also considered, some of whom have far more knowledge and experience in all fields of law than even those practicing in Supreme Court of India.

“There is no dearth of talented, competent and meritorious lawyers practicing in all the High Courts in the country and in the courts subordinate to the High Courts,” the letter, also signed by secretary Abhijat, stated. The DHCBA said, taking cue from the argument advanced by the SCBA for considering lawyers practicing in Supreme Courts for elevation to High courts, it may well be argued as to why should the High Court lawyers be not considered for direct elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court? The DHCBA pointed out that the High Courts’ collegium recommends candidates for elevation based on qualities that are observed during lawyers’ regular appearances before the concerned High Court.

Recommending names of lawyers practicing in Supreme Court of India, for elevation to High Courts, without adequate opportunity to the High Court collegium will neither be fair nor just either for the institution or for the talented and deserving lawyers practicing before the High Courts, it said. It added that the selection of lawyers by the High Court Collegium encourages decentralized decision-making process assessed from ground reality, which benefits not only the Judicial Institution of each state but is also in larger public interest. On June 8, the SCBA President Vikas Singh, in a press statement, had claimed that the CJI has agreed to its proposal to request the Chief Justices of all the high courts to consider apex court lawyers for elevation as HC judges.

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