The Madras High Court on Monday reserved orders on a writ petition that insisted that among the lawyers to be designated as Senior Counsel, in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai as well as its Madurai Bench, at least 30% of them should be women.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sundar and N. Sathish Kumar deferred their verdict after hearing the counsel representing the petitioner S. Lawrence Vimalraj, a Madurai-based lawyer, as well as the Women Lawyers Association (WLA) which was allowed to intervene in the case.
The petitioner pointed out that the High Court administration had issued a notification in 2020 calling for applications for the designation but did not proceed further with the task. Subsequently, it issued another notification calling for further applications and took up all applications together for scrutiny.
A permanent committee headed by Acting Chief Justice T. Raja had conducted interviews with the eligible candidates and shortlisted some of them. The shortlisted names alone were placed before a Full Court (a body comprising all judges) meeting on December 7 but a decision on the issue was deferred.
Since only a handful of women lawyers had made it to the list, the petitioner insisted on ensuring greater representation for them. The WLA insisted that the entire list of eligible candidates must be placed before the Full Court as was being done in many other High Courts in the country.
During the course of hearing, when the judges wanted to know who had made a mention before the Supreme Court on December 6 with regard to the issue on hand; the counsel representing the writ petitioner as well as the WLA said they were not sure about who had done it.