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[UPDATE] Delhi HC elevates four young advocates & record 50% women to senior counsel

Delhi high court: Equals opportunities?
Delhi high court: Equals opportunities?
Exclusive: The High Court of Delhi has today designated four new senior advocates. Two of the new seniors are women, and all four have less than 25 years of practicing experience.

Advocates Rebecca Mammen John, Maninder Kaur Acharya, Joy Basu and Hariharan N were today informed about the high court order notifying their designation as seniors.

Hariharan was enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) in 1987, John in 1988, Acharya in 1990, and Basu in 1992.

It is understood that the four were selected from 24 nominees.

The Delhi high court (HC) notified new rules on 14 December stating that senior advocates must have been enrolled as advocates with the BCD for at least 10 years, while primarily practicing in Delhi high and district courts. They must also have been mentioned in “at least fifteen judgments, in the preceding three years, where [they have] contributed to the growth of law”.

Retired judicial officers or high court judges who have presided on the bench for at least 10 years are also eligible.

An advocate is considered for the designation either on the suo moto proposal of a Delhi HC judge, or a proposal made to the registrar general of the HC by five senior advocates who have had that designation for at least five years.

If the “full court” approved any such proposal with two-third majority votes, in a secret ballot, the proposed advocate would be designated a senior.

The last batch of senior advocates designated by the Delhi HC came in February and August 2011. In 2011, according to the HC’s website, a total 18 senior advocates were designated out of which only two were women -  Prem Lata Bansal and Jyoti Singh.

The number of senior advocates in the Delhi high court now stands at 195.

In February 2011, when the HC had designated 10 new senior advocates Legally India had reported concerns around the subjectivity of the process of designation, and that winning two-thirds of judges’ votes involved “a lot of appeasement”.

No women were designated in the Bombay high court's September 2012 round of eight

In the two decades preceding 2011, the Delhi and Mumbai High Courts had appointed only three female senior counsel each out of a total of 122 and 81 new senior advocate respectively, according to an analysis published by Legally India at the time.

UPDATE: Advocate Sanjeev Sindhwani, enrolled with the BCD since 1987, was also part of yesterday's batch of senior elevations. With the five, and not four, newly designated seniors, the number of Delhi high court advocates now stands at 196.

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