Recently, the Supreme Court 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.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian Legal System
- Becoming an Advocate-on-Record (AOR)
- Rules Governing the AOR System
Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian Legal System
Role and Functions:
- An Advocate-on-Record (AOR) is a lawyer registered and authorized by the Supreme Court of India to represent clients in that court.
- AORs have the exclusive right to file and argue cases in the Supreme Court on behalf of their clients. Only an AOR can file cases before the Supreme Court.
- While AORs might engage other lawyers, including senior counsels, to argue before the Court, they serve as the crucial link between the litigant and the highest court of the country.
- AORs also have the privilege to appear before other courts and can perform tasks such as filing petitions, drafting affidavits, submitting Vakaltnamas (authorizations), and filing various applications at the Supreme Court on behalf of their clients.
Idea behind AOR:
- The concept behind having AORs is to ensure that a lawyer with special qualifications, chosen by the Supreme Court itself, is well-prepared to represent a litigant.
- This is particularly important because the Supreme Court is often considered the court of last resort for litigants.
- The designation of Advocate on Record is intended to ensure that the litigant’s case is presented at the highest level of professionalism and competence.
- The effective implementation of the Advocate on Record system is essential to maintain the high standard of litigation quality in the country’s apex court.
Becoming an Advocate-on-Record (AOR):
To become an Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian legal system, the following steps and eligibility criteria must be fulfilled:
- Clear the Supreme Court Exam: An advocate must successfully pass the examination conducted by the Supreme Court of India. This examination assesses their knowledge of various legal aspects.
- Four Years of Practice: Before commencing the training to become an AOR, the candidate must have at least four years of legal practice.
- Training: After clearing the exam, the advocate needs to undergo training with a court-approved Advocate-on-Record for a minimum period of one year.
- Scoring: The candidate must achieve a minimum score of at least 60% in a three-hour examination. The subjects covered in this exam include Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics, and Leading Cases.
- Registered Office: The advocate must have a registered office located within a radius of 16 kilometers from the Supreme Court building.
- Undertaking: The aspiring AOR is required to give an undertaking to employ a registered clerk within one month of being registered as an AOR.
Rules Governing the AOR System:
The Advocate-on-Record (AOR) system is regulated by various legal provisions and rules:
- Under Article 145 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court is empowered to make rules and regulate its own procedures for hearing cases.
- Section 30 of the Advocates Act provides that any lawyer enrolled with the Bar Council is entitled to practice law before any court or tribunal in the country. This provision does not restrict advocates from practicing in the Supreme Court, provided their names are on the state roll.
- Section 52 of the Advocates Act, 1961, grants the Supreme Court the power to frame rules for practicing in the court, subject to Article 145 of the Constitution.
Constitutional Validity of Rules:
- The rules governing the AOR system were challenged in the case of Balraj Singh Malik v Supreme Court of India. The court ruled that Section 30 of the Advocates Act should be read with Rule 52 of the Supreme Court Rules, which preserves the rule-making power of the Supreme Court under Article 145 of the Constitution.
- This means that the Supreme Court has the authority to determine both the manner and the right to practice for various classes of advocates before it, subject to the constitutional provisions and the Advocates Act.
-Source: Indian Express