Meghalaya: Did the High Courts amend the rules to favour Delhi based Lawyers

Meghalaya: Did the High Courts amend the rules to favour Delhi based Lawyers

After the controversy surrounding Senior designations by the Supreme Court and the subsequent PIL filed by Indira Jaising, the apex court is now witness to another petition from the Meghalaya High Court in a similar vein.

However, this time, the controversy has another interesting face to it – the designated lawyers are allegedly based out of Delhi and do not practice in the Meghalaya High Court.

In the petition filed by Shillong High Court Bar Association, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice JS Khehar and C Nagappan J. proceeded to issue notice today.

Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared for the petitioner Association.

The matter has its genesis in the designation of a Delhi-based advocate made in the year 2014 by the Meghalaya High Court. The designation was allegedly made in violation of the Rules framed by the High Court itself.

Things did not end there, as two more designations were made in 2015. This time, however, the High Court amended the criteria prescribed by the Rules, allegedly to facilitate the designations.

While the Rules initially mandated a 5-year practice in the High Court for an advocate to be eligible for designation, this was later amended to 10-year practice in any court in India. Another major change to the rule was that any 3 lawyers could recommend an applicant's name for the gown, as opposed to the earlier condition, which required that the recommending lawyer should also be from the High Court.

The petitioner has sought quashing of the 3 Senior designations, as well as the Rules framed by the High Court.

When the matter came up for hearing today, the Bench had a brief discussion and proceeded to issue notice even before the petitioner advocate could make her submissions.

Justice Khehar said that the case deserves to be heard, while remarking in jest as to why "she was bringing all the important cases" to the court.

High Court of Meghalaya was established in March 2013 and has only three judges. Currently, Justice Nandakumar Singh is the acting Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court. He took over from Justice Uma Nath Singh who retired a week back.

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