By virtue of section 16 of the Advocates Act, 1961 advocates can be classified into two groups. They are
The status of “Senior Advocate” will be conferred by the Supreme Court or High Court. The rules regarding designation as Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court is contained in Order IV Rule 2 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966.
The Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court may with the consent of the advocate, designate an advocate as senior advocate if in their opinion he is deserving such distinction. It is conferred on the basis of his merits such as ability, standing at the Bar, special knowledge and experience in law.
When an advocate is designated as a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court, the Registrar shall communicate to all the High Courts and the Secretary to the Bar Council of India and the Secretary of the Bar Council Concerned the name of the said advocate and the date on which he was so designated.
The rules regarding designation as senior advocate by the Kerala High Court is framed by the High Court of Kerala.
The following are the main rules.
The High Court of Kerala may designate an advocate as Senior Advocate, if in their opinion, by virtue of his ability, standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law, the said advocate is deserving such a distinction. The designation shall be made either on an application from the Advocate concerned or suo moto. If designation is proposed to be made suo moto, the consent of the advocate concerned shall be taken before such designation. The proposal for designation either on application by the Advocate or suo moto shall be considered at a meeting of the Chief Justice and other judges of the High Court. Such proposal shall be considered as accepted only if not less than two thirds of the total number of judges present at such meeting are in favour of accepting the application.
When an advocate is designated as a Senior Advocate , the Registrar shall communicate the fact to the Registrar, Supreme Court , the Bar Council of Kerala, the Bar Council of India and the Bar Councils of other states and also to all the District and Sessions Judges subordinate to the High Court.
By virtue of section 17 of the Advocates Act, 1961, every State Bar Council shall prepare and maintain a roll of advocates of all persons who are admitted to be advocates on the roll of the State Bar Council. The roll of the Advocates shall be maintained in two parts. The first part containing the names and addresses of the senior advocates and the second part containing the names and addresses of other advocates in the order of their seniority, A Senior Advocate shall not file a Vakalathnama or file an appearance or any pleadings or applications in any court or tribunal in India. He shall not appear without an advocate on record in the Supreme Court or without a junior advocate in any other court or tribunal in India. He shall not accept instructions to draw pleadings or affidavits, advise on evidence or do any drafting work of an analogous kind in any court or tribunal in India or undertake conveyancing work of any kind whatsoever. He can settle the pleadings.
Chapter I of Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules provides for restrictions on Senior Advocates in the matter of their practice of the profession of law.
Senior Advocates shall, in the matter of their practice of the profession of law mentioned in Section 30 of the Act, be subject to the following restrictions:
(a) A Senior Advocate shall not file a vakalatnama or act in any Court, or Tribunal, or before any person or other authority mentioned in Section 30 of the Act.
Explanation : “To act” means to file an appearance or any pleading or application in any court or Tribunal or before any person or other authority mentioned in Section 30 of the Act, or to do any act other than pleading required or authorised by law to be done by a party in such Court or Tribunal or before any person or other authorities mentioned in the said Section either in person or by his recognized agent or by an advocate or an attorney on his behalf.
(c) He shall not accept instructions to draft pleading or affidavits, advice on evidence or to do any drafting work of an analogous kind in any Court or Tribunal or before any person or other authorities mentioned in Section 30 of the Act or undertake conveyancing work of any kind whatsoever. This restriction however shall not extend to settling any such matter as aforesaid in consultation with an advocate in Part II of the State Roll.
(cc) A Senior Advocate shall, however, be free to make concessions or give undertaking in the course of arguments on behalf of his clients on instructions from the junior advocate.
(d) He shall not accept directly from a client any brief or instructions to appear in any Court or Tribunal or before any person or other authorities in India.
(e) A Senior Advocate who had acted as an Advocate (Junior) in a case, shall not after he has been designated as a Senior Advocate advise on grounds of appeal in a Court of Appeal or in the Supreme Court, except with an Advocate as aforesaid.
(f) A Senior Advocate may in recognition of the services rendered by an Advocate in Part-II of the State Roll appearing in any matter pay him a fee which he considers reasonable.