Advocate-on-Record system in the Supreme Court


  • The Supreme Court this week pulled up an Advocate-on-Record (AoR) for filing a frivolous case and dismissed the public interest litigation. The Court censured the lawyer that an AoR cannot merely be a “signing authority.”

Who is an AoR?

  • Only an AoR can file cases before the Supreme Court. An AoR might engage other lawyers including senior counsels to argue before the Court but the AoR is essentially the link between the litigant and the highest court of the country.

    Advocate-on-Record system in the Supreme Court
    Source: Social Laws Today
  • After fulfilling an eligibility criteria and clearing a rather tough examination, an advocate is qualified to be an AoR.
  • Simply put, AORs are a pool of elite Delhi-based lawyers whose legal practice is mostly before the SC.
  • They can appear before other courts too.
  • The idea behind this practice is that a lawyer with special qualifications, picked by the Supreme Court itself, is equipped to appear for a litigant because it is a court of the last opportunity for the litigant.
  • The Supreme Court Rules, 2013 prescribe eligibility criteria for an AoR.
    • While an advocate has to clear an examination set by the Court itself, the advocate has to meet specific criteria to be eligible to appear for the exam.
    • The advocate must train with a court approved AoR for at least one year to take up the exam.
    • She must also have at least four years of practice before starting the training itself.
    • An advocate needs to score at least 60% i.e. a minimum of 240 marks out of 400 with at least 50% in each subject in a three-hour exam.
      • The subjects include Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics and Leading Cases. z
    • Approximately 200-250 lawyers clear the exam to become AoRs.
    • An AoR must have an office in Delhi within a 16-kilometre radius of the SC.
    • Additionally, she is required to give an undertaking to employ, within one month of being registered as an AoR, a registered clerk.

What are the rules governing the AoR system?

  • According to Section 30 of the Advocates Act, any lawyer enrolled with the Bar Council is entitled to practice law before any Court or tribunal in the country.
  • However, the provision also categorically states that “nothing in the provision shall be deemed to affect the power of the Supreme Court to make rules under Article 145 of the Constitution.”
    • Under Article 145 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is empowered to make rules and regulate its own procedure for hearing cases.
  • The AoR system is broadly based on the British practice of barristers and solicitors.

Source: IE

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