In this article, Goutam Bibhuprasad Sahu, of KiiT School of Law, Bhubaneswar has discussed the procedure that is to be followed by a lawyer to get a chamber in Supreme Court of India.

Value of Supreme Court Chambers

Getting a chamber in the Supreme Court is a matter of prestige, credibility, and luck. These chambers are extremely valuable and limited in nature. Thousands of advocates practising in this apex court apply for the few hundred chambers that available. These few chambers are located in posh locations in the vicinity of the supreme court which lends instant credibility to these advocates in the eyes of their clients. This is what that makes these chambers a prized possession for the advocates practising in the supreme court, and necessitated the SC Chamber Rules laying down clear criteria for the allocation of these chambers among advocates.

Supreme Court’s invitation for applications

Online Applications are invited from Senior Advocates, Advocates-on-Record and Non-Advocates-on-Record who are the members of the Supreme Court Bar Association. They are required to fulfil the required eligibility criteria to get allotted with the chambers.

For invitation notice of the Supreme Court (See here).

Read the notice below:

SENIOR ADVOCATE

  1. Who are mainly and regularly practising in the Supreme Court
  2. Who must have the minimum number of 50 appearances (Admission and regular hearing matters excluding I.As/Cr.M.Ps) each year for any two consecutive years between 01.06.2011 and 30.06.2016 (Registrar’s Court Appearance shall not be taken into account).
  3. Subject 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 AOR.

ADVOCATES-ON-RECORD

  1. Who must have filed (or entered appearances on behalf of respondents) on an average 20 cases per annum (i.e admission/regular matter and not I.As/Cr.M.Ps. And Government Filing) in the course of any two consecutive years between 01.06.2011 and 30.06.2016 (a batch of cases shall be treated as a single case).
  2. Subject to the above requirements being complied with, the allotment shall be made according to the date of seniority i.e the date of registration as AOR.

JUNIOR ADVOCATE (NON-ADVOCATE-ON-RECORD)

  1. Who are mainly and regularly practising in Supreme Court.
  2. Who must have put in not less than 50 appearances (Admission and regular hearing matters excluding I.As/Cr.M.Ps) each year for any two consecutive years between 01.06.2011 and 30.06.2016.
  3. Subject to the above two requited being compiled 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.

Allotment of lawyers’ chambers rule (As amended up to 14th May 2018)

  1. These rules shall be called Lawyers’ Chambers Rule.
  2. The Allotment of chambers is to be made by a committee set up by the chief justice of India and all such allotments shall be subject to the approval of the chief justice of India.
  3. The Allotment shall be made to the advocated of the Supreme Court as is a member of the Supreme Court Bar association who regularly practice in the Supreme Court.
  4. Allotment of the chambers to the applicants who are members of Supreme Court Bar Association shall be made in the following manner;
  5. i) Advocates-on-Record who are regularly practising in this court;
  6. ii) Non-Advocates-on-record who are resident in Delhi/New Delhi and who are mainly and regularly practising in this court;

iii) Senior Advocates resident in Delhi/New Delhi and who are mainly and regularly practising in this court

Provided that the allotment shall be made in the sequence maintained in the following order:

The first four vacancies shall be allotted to the Advocates-on-Record, the fifth vacancy to the Non-Advocates-on-Record, sixth, seventh and eighth vacancy to the Advocates-on-Record, the ninth vacancy to the No- Advocates-on-Record and the tenth vacancy to the Senior Advocates. This cycle shall continue in a repeated manner until all the vacancies are filled.

  1. At the time of allotment of chamber/cabin, the allottee shall have to deposit a sum of Rs.4,000/- as security amount or such amount as may be fixed from time to time. The amount shall be paid in cash or by pay order/DD drawn on a local bank in favour of Deputy Registrar(Admin.) Supreme Court of India. When allotment is made the said amount shall be credited to Government account as a security deposit.
  2. Two advocates shall be allotted a single chamber in the old lawyers’ chambers block and also the bigger size chambers in the new lawyers’ chambers building and on such allotment being made each allottee are individually responsible to pay the licence fee according to his share, electricity charges and water charges time to time. If there are 2 advocates in a single chamber then they have to share all the expenses jointly.

Provided that if the allotment of a joint allottee is cancelled then another advocate on the basis of seniority shall be allotted the chamber.

  1. If an advocate is allotted a chamber in the old building then he may choose another advocate out of the approved panel of advocates.

Provided that if the allotment of a joint allottee is cancelled then another advocate on the basis of seniority shall be allotted the chamber.

7A. The advocates whose spouse are in occupation of a chamber in the old lawyers’ chamber or in the High Court will get a cabin measuring 6.21sq.meters instead of a full chamber. If the advocate is an allottee of a chamber in Delhi High Court then he may get a chamber in Supreme Court in a condition that he will surrender the chamber in Delhi High Court and if one of the spouses is an existing allottee of a full chamber then no fresh allotment shall be made.

7B. In case of death of an allottee of a chamber his son/daughter/spouse if an advocate will be allotted one of the chambers, only if the allotment committee is satisfied that such person is practising at Supreme Court.

In case of death of an allottee of a chamber, to whom the chamber is allotted?

As per the last amendment in 2007, in the event of the death of an allottee of a chamber, his son/daughter/spouse, if an advocate may be allotted a portion of that chamber if the allotment committee is satisfied that he/she is practising in the Supreme Court.

But ordinarily, chambers are allotted on the basis of the criteria mentioned above and the number of appearances.

Analysis of rule 7B of Supreme Court Chamber Allocation Rules

It is very apparent that the Supreme Court Lawyers’ Chambers is owned by the Supreme Court of India. In that regards the chambers are a public property. When a chamber is allotted to an advocate it is not the ownership that is passed but only a licence is given to using it for a definite period. The question that arises is whether a licence to use a public good is inheritable or not?

It is true that a person can live behind his wealth and property for the benefit of his/her child or spouse. However, in this case, the allottee does not get a permanent ownership but get only a licence to use it for a temporary period of time. Since the chamber is not owned by the allottee the question of passing its ownership does not come it at all.

It is also true that the Supreme Court Chambers are very limited in nature in comparison to its demand. It is unjust to pass on this scarce resource on the basis of succession. Rather it should be appreciable if they are allotted on the basis of eligibility, hence ensuring equal opportunity and justice.

This rule needs an amendment soon or else there will be a time where all the Supreme Court Chambers will be occupied by their successor (son/daughter/spouse) and no chambers will be vacant for allocation to the eligible candidates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the fee for each chamber?

During the allotment of the chamber, the allottee has to pay a security deposit of Rs.4,000/- or any amount as may be fixed from time to time by the allotment committee.  

What are the other charges accrued relating to the chambers apart from the normal chamber fee?

Charges other than the license fee:

  1. Electricity Charges (Depending upon the consumption)
  2. Water Charges (Fixed Charge)
  3. Wi-Fi Charges (Fixed Charge)
  4. Service and maintenance charges (As decided by the Chief Justice of India)
  5. Other charges (Depending upon the services availed by the allottee)      

Can an advocate have more than one chamber?

No, an advocate cannot have more than one chamber. An advocate whose spouse is in the occupation of a chamber in the old lawyers’ chamber or in the High Court will get a cabin measuring 6.21sq.meters instead of a full chamber  

Can the chamber be transferred, assigned or sub-let by the allottee?                    

No allottee or allottees can transfer, assign or sub-let in favour of any other person; nor such an allottee or allottees can share the chamber with any other advocate.

How to renovate the chamber?

No allottee or allottees at any time during the continuance of allotment shall carry out any renovation, construction, addition or alteration to the chamber without the approval of the Chief Justice of India.                           

On what grounds the allotment of chambers can be terminated?

Following are the grounds for termination of allotment:

  1. Cancellation by the Chief Justice of India, or
  2. Surrender by the allottee, or
  3. When the allottee fails to pay the licence fee and other charges for two successive months, or
  4. The allottee ceasing to be a member of Supreme Court Bar Association, or
  5. The allottees’ name being removed from the roll of a State Bar Council, or
  6. When the allottee doesn’t comply with the orders of the Allotment Committee, or
  7. On the death of an allottee, or
  8. On the allottee being elevated to the bench of a High Court or Supreme Court.         

Conclusion

Getting a chamber in the Supreme Court premises is as precious as getting a pearl from the bottom of the sea. With all the procedure and application done online, now the process has got much easier. Doing all these online have made the process very transparent and leaves very little or no scope for corruption and malpractices. To avoid the termination of allotment the allottees have to follow the guidelines laid down by the Allotment Committee and on arising of any dispute the decision of Chief Justice of India shall be final.

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