Joshi Vs. Registrar General Supreme Court to India & Anr  INSC 451 (2 September 1998)
Agrawal, G.T. Nanavati, S. Saghir Ahmad Nanavati, J.
W.P. @ Nos. 1107/90, 1223/90, 628/90, 763/91, 84/94, 51/98 and 307/98 and
I.A..../98 in W.P @ No. 1107/90 and I.A. No..../98 in W.P. @ No.883/90)
these petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution and applications made
therein were finally heard on 16.5.1998 and disposed of by passing the
in WP@ No.883/90 Upon being mentioned taken on Board. The applicant in this
I.A. is an advocate and is a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association since
1971 but he is not actively practicing is this Court. He is the Chief Editor of
the Supreme Court Cases. he has submitted that in view of the fact that in that
capacity he has been closely associated with the work and needs of the Supreme
Court and the Bar in the matter of reporting of the decisions of this Court,
facility of a chamber may be extended to him in order to enable him to
discharge his functions more effectively. In our pinion, it will be more
appropriate for the applicant to submit a representation before Hon'ble the
Chief Justice of India setting out the special facts and circumstances of his
case and seek exemption from the provisions contained in the rules providing
for allotment since the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India alone is competent to
make such exemption. The application is disposed of accordingly.
No. 628/90 The grievance of the petitioner in this writ petition was regarding
consideration of the representation of the petitioner under the Allotment Rules
for the purpose of allotment of chamber to him. It is stated that during the pendency
of the writ petition the said grievance of the petitioner has been removed and
he has been allotted half portion of the chamber. In the circumstances, this
writ petition has become infructuous and it is dismissed as such.
concluded. Detailed reasons will follow. We have heard the learned Attorney
General for India/learned ASG, learned senior
counsel/counsel for the parties in these matters. For reasons to be given
later, we are of the view that there is no infirmity in the roster system
adopted under the letter dated August 29, 1995
for allotment of chambers to advocates-on-record, junior non-advocates on
record and the senior advocates in the ratio of 7:2:1. The said system for
allotment is therefore, upheld. If any of the associations of advocates or and
advocate has any suggestion for modification of the said principle the same may
be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India who many consider the same.
But till any modification is made the existing principle will govern the
allotment of chambers. If any of the petitioners in these matters has any
individual grievance in the matter of allotment of a chamber, he can submit a
representation to the Allotment Committee which may consider the same on
merits. The writ petitions are disposed of accordingly. Interim order shall
stand vacated. No costs." We could not state the reasons then for want of
are now stating the reasons why the writ petitions were dismissed.
should be the correct criteria for allotment of chambers to the members of the
Supreme Court Bar Association was the issue raised in the petitions. Most of
them were filed by the Advocates-on-Record. One was by their Association. Their
main grievance was that so long as the necessity of Advocates-on-Record for
chambers is not satisfied neither the existing chambers nor the new chambers
should be allotted to senior advocates and other advocates who are not
Advocates-on-Record. the relief which they wanted was that the ratio
recommended by the allotment Committee and approved by the Hon'ble the Chief
Justice of India be declared as arbitrary and illegal. The remaining petitions
were by those advocates who had to ventilate their individual grievances.
will first deal with the contention raised by the petitioners in Writ Petition
Nos. 883 of 1990 and 1223 of 1990, that not making available chambers to the
Advocates- on-Record within the Supreme Court Compound is violative of their
fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. it was submitted
that Article 19(1)(g), guarantees, inter alia, the right to practice any
profession. Practising legal professional is thus a fundamental right. An
Advocate-on-Record can exercise this fundamental right of his effectively only
if he is provided with a chamber within the supreme court premises. Therefore,
to make a chamber available to him is an integral part of his guaranteed
fundamental right. We see no substance in this contention. Even if we proceed
on the basis that to practise as an advocate is a fundamental right, no right
to be allotted a chamber within the Court premises follows from it. A legal
practitioner/an advocate can carry on his legal profession without a chamber.
It is not necessary that he should have a chamber within the Court premises.
That, which merely facilitates the exercise of the fundamental right cannot be
regarded as an integral part of that fundamental right. Far from being a
fundamental right it does not even have the status of a right. No law confers
such a right on a member of a legal profession nor such a facility has been
accepted as a right even otherwise. Making a chamber available to be a member
of the legal profession practising in a court of law is really a facility
provided to him by the court. This is the true nature and character of the
claim made by the Advocates-on-Record, not giving a chamber to him cannot be
regarded as violative of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. It may be stated
that neither the learned Attorney General nor Mr. Nariman, Mr. Venugopal and
other senior advocates supported this contention and very fairly stated that
the view which we are taking namely that it is a facility provided by the Court
is the correct view.
is not a matter of right or legal obligation of the Court to provide the
facility of a chamber to an advocate it would really be a matter of discretion
of the Principal Judge of the Court to decide to whom and to what extent that
facility should be extended, when the same is available; and, his only
obligation would be to act in fair and just manner and nor arbitrarily. It may
be proper for him to frame rules, appoint a committee and fix guidelines for
the purpose of allotment of chambers; but, the obligation is no higher than to
act in a reasonable manner.
would be for him to decide when, to whom, to what extent and on what terms and
conditions he should allot chambers.
other contention raised on behalf of the Adocates- on-Record was that proposed
allotment of chambers to Advocates-on-Record, non-Advocates-on-Record and
Senior Advocates in the ratio of 7:2:1 is not consistent with the rule framed
by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India and also arbitrary and, therefore, violative
of Article 14 of the Constitution. The rules which at present govern allotment
of chambers are Lawyers' Chambers (Allotment and Occupancy) Rules. The relevant
rules are Rules 2 to 4 and 23 and they are as under:
2 Allotment of Chambers shall be made by a committee appointed by the Chief
Justice of India and all such allotments shall be subject to the approval of
the Chief Justice of India.
Allotment shall be made to such advocates of the Supreme Court as are members
of the Supreme Court Bar Association who regularly practice in the Supreme
Court and who reside in Delhi or New Delhi.
Allotment of Chambers to applicants shall be made in the following order or
Advocates-on-Record who are regularly practicing in the Court;
Advocates not being Senior Advocates, resident in Delhi/New Delhi who are
regularly practicing in this Court and (iii) Senior Advocates resident in
Delhi/New Delhi who are regularly practicing in this Court.
however, that allotment to persons falling under categories (ii) and (iii)
above may be in exceptional cases only.
The Chief Justice of India may from time to time make such amendments and
additions to these Rules as may be necessary and expedient." In accordance
with these rules the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India has been appointing
allotment Committee from time to time. The Allotment Committee consists mainly
of the Advocates who are members of the Supreme Court Bar Association. On the
basis of the recommendations made by the Allotment Committee Chief Justice of
India ordinarily allots chambers to the advocates but as exceptional cases
chambers have been allotted to advocates who are not Advocates-on- Record. On
1995, the Allotment Committee recommended to the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of
India that chambers may be allotted to the Advocates-on-Record,
non-Advocates-on-Record and Senior Advocates in the ratio of 7:2:1. This recommendation
was accepted and by a letter dated 29.8.1995, the members of the Supreme Court
Bar Association were informed about it. we quote below the said letter dated
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA Dated: 29th August, 1995 From: P.N. Jain Asstt. Registrar (Admn.) To The Hony,
Secretary, Supreme Court Bar Association, New Delhi.
you are aware, the Allotment Committee had recommended to invite applications
from (1) Senior Advocates and (2) Junior Advocates (Non-Advocates-on-Record)
for preparing fresh separate panels and (3) from Advocates-on- Record for
updating the existing panel for allotment of Lawyers' Chambers and that the
allotment be made in accordance with the roster maintained in the following
first four vacancies be allotted to Advocate-on- Record, the firth vacancy to
the Junior Advocates (non- Advocates-on-Record), sixth, seventh and eighth
vacancies to Advocates-on-Record, 9th vacancy to the Junior Advocates
(non-Advocates-on-Record) and tenth to the senior Advocates." The above
recommendations have been approved by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. The
Procedure/Criteria laid down for the purpose is as under:
Senior Advocates who are mainly and regularly practising in the Supreme Court
and are members of the Supreme court Association.
must have filed the minimum number of fifty appearances (Admission and regular
hearing matters excluding CMPs and Cr.M.Ps) per year during the preceding two
calendar years prior to the date of application.
Subject to the above two requirements being complied with, the allotment shall
be made based on priority of the date of their being designated as Senior
Advocate. A panel will be prepared accordingly.
advocate-on-Record of three years standing only will be eligible for allotment
or joint allotment of a chamber.
The Advocate-on-Record must have filed (or entered appearances on behalf of
respondents) on an average 20 cases (i.e. admission/regular matters and not CMPs./Cr.M.P.s)
per annum, in the course of preceding two years (batch of cases shall be
treated as a single case).
to the above two requirements being complied with, the allotment shall be made
according to the date of seniority i.e. the date of registration as Advocate-
on-Record. The names of the eligible persons shall be added at the bottom of
the existing approved panel.
Those persons who have been allotted a chamber in Delhi High Court Compound may
not be considered for allotment of a chamber in the Supreme Court.
The filing of Advocates for Government filing shall be excluded.
JUNIOR ADVOCATES (NON ADVOCATES-ON-RECORD):
All Junior Advocates (Non-Advocates-On-Record) who are mainly and regularly practising
in the Supreme court and are the members of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
must have put in not less than fifty appearances (Admission and Regular Hearing
matters excluding C.M.Ps. and Cr. M.Ps.) each year during the preceding two
years prior to the date of inviting applications in the Supreme Court of India.
Subject to the above two requirements being complied with, the seniority of
such persons shall be based on the date of their present admission to the
active membership of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
to the above, applications are invited for the abovesaid purpose. The period of
two years for which the number of filing/appearances have to be furnished will
be from 1.1.1993 to 31.12.1993 and from 1.1.1994 to 31.12.1994.
faithfully sd/- Assistant Registrar (Admn)." It was submitted that the
ratio of 7:2:1 is inconsistent with Rule 4, which contemplates allotment of
chambers firstly to the Advocates-on-Record and only in exceptional cases to
others. It was submitted that there is a reason behind this Rule. Under the
Supreme court Rules, 1966 the Advocates-on-Record hold a special position and
are subject to certain obligations and duties. The Senior Advocates and
non-Advocates-on-Record are under no such obligation. Thus the requirement and
necessity of Advocates- on-Record to have a chamber is much greater and,
therefore, so long as their necessity is not satisfied no chamber should be
allotted to Senior Advocates and non-advocates-on- Record. Rule 4 recognizes
this necessity and, therefore, provides that the Advocates-on-Record shall have
first priority in the matter of allotment of chambers. It was not disputed by
the learned counsel appearing of behalf of Senior Advocates and
non-Advocates-on-Record that the Advocates-on-Record have a greater necessity
to have chambers but it was contended that it would be unreasonable to say that
no chamber should be allotted to Senior Advocates or a non-Advocate-on-Record
till all the Advocates-on-Record are provided with chambers. It was also
submitted by them that Rule 4 was never understood to mean that no chamber
should be provided to a Senior Advocate or a non-Advocate-on-Record till all
the Advocates-on-Record are provided with chambers. In our opinion, Rule 4
cannot be read the way in which the Advocates-on-Record wants us to read it.
Rule 4 only indicates the manner in which the discretionary power to allot
chambers is going to be exercised. The rule itself contemplates allotment of
chambers to persons falling under categories 2 and 3 in exceptional cases.
Chambers were in fact allotted from time to time to the Advocates falling under
categories 2 and 3.
had led to some dissatisfaction amongst the Advocates- on-Record as they feel
that some of those allotments were not proper. It appears that the Allotment
Committee recommended fixing a ratio of 7:2:1 and also the manner in which the
allotment should be done in accordance with the said ratio by suggesting a
roster, with a view to remove the cause for the dissatisfaction amongst the
Advocates-on- Record. It appears that since the recommendation came from the
Allotment Committee which mainly consists of the members of the Supreme Court
Bar Association and was found to be reasonable and likely to satisfy the needs
of all the three categories of the Advocates the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of
India accepted the same. On consideration of all the relevant aspects it is not
possible to agree with the submission that non-advocates-on-Record and Senior
Advocates do not have any need to have chambers in the Supreme Court premises.
While allotting chambers what is required to be considered is the relative
needs of all the three categories of advocates. Considering the object of
providing facility of chambers and the need to balance the interests of all the
three categories of advocates the ratio of 7:2:1 cannot be regarded as
unreasonable or arbitrary. Therefore, the contention that Hon'ble the Chief
Justice of India in doing so has acted unreasonably must be rejected.
other grievances were also made at the time of hearing of these petitions. They
are more in the nature of complaints and suggestions and, therefore, they can
properly be dealt with by the Allotment Committee and ultimately by the Hon'ble
the Chief Justice of India. We may only suggest that Hon'ble the Chief Justice
of India, if he deems it proper, may appoint a Committee of two or three Hon'ble
Judges of this court to look into the suggestions made for modification of the
Rules and the new principle to help him in taking the final decision in the