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SC bar on rookie lawyers

New Delhi, July 22: The Supreme Court, unhappy with rookie lawyers appearing in cases without doing their homework, has barred advocates with less than a year’s experience from arguing before it.

An order to this effect was passed early this week, amending the Supreme Court rules of 1996, at the behest of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

Sources told The Telegraph that Justice Lodha took the decision following complaints from several judges that advocates with little experience are appearing before the court without proper training.

The Supreme Court has clarified that under the amended rules, the rookie advocates can henceforth only appear before the judges for the limited purpose of “mentioning” — a privilege extended to the counsel to inform the court about any pressing reason for listing or filing of any petitions.

The amended rules say that “an advocate whose name is entered on the roll of any State Bar Council maintained under the Advocates Act, 1961 (25 of 1961), for less than one year, shall be entitled to mention matters in court for the limited purpose of asking for time, date, adjournment and similar such orders, but shall not be entitled to address the court for the purpose of any effective hearing.”

It, however, adds that “the court may, if it thinks desirable to do so for any reason, permit any person to appear and address the court in a particular case.”

The apex court also decided to deal firmly with advocates on record for any misconduct, warning of removal of their names from the list.

Advocates on record are a class of over 300 advocates, appointed after annual tests, who have the sole right to formally draft any petitions before the Supreme Court. While other advocates can practise and argue their cases, they are not allowed to draft the petitions.

The ultimatum has been given in view of complaints that several advocates on record are just appending their signatures to petitions drafted by other on payment of their fees.

The amended Supreme Court rules say that when “the court is of the opinion that an advocate on record has been guilty of misconduct or of conduct unbecoming of an advocate on record, the court may make an order removing his name from the register of advocates on record either permanently or for such period as the court may think fit....”

Misconduct has been defined as:

Mere name lending by an advocate-on-record without further participation in the proceedings of the case;

Absence of advocate- on-record from the court without any justifiable cause when the case is taken up for hearing

Failure to submit appearance slip duly signed by the advocate-on-record of actual appearances in the court.