Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a petition from a lawyers’ body against the designation of advocates with a practice of 30 years or more as senior, LiveLaw reported. The National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reform said the system leads to an “elite class” consisting of kith and kin, PTI reported.

Gogoi said he did not “want to be part of the bench”. On October 12, 2017, Gogoi had delivered a verdict specifying guidelines for the top court and 24 High Courts on the process that involves categorising certain lawyers as seniors. Gogoi had ordered the setting up of a panel headed by the Chief Justice of India and assisted by a secretariat.

In September 2018, the Supreme Court had listed 25 former chief justices and judges of High Courts as senior advocates, LiveLaw reported. The lawyers organisation contested the verdict and asked the court to reconsider it while claiming that the process would be detrimental to the independence of the Bar. The body suggested that lawyers who are 62 years of age or older and have been actively practising at the Bar for more than 35 years, be designated as senior advocates for the time being.

The petition said that the designation system created two classes – elite class comprising the kith and kin and juniors of sitting and former judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts, and those who are politically connected and the “first generation” lawyers.