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18% pass advocates-on-record (AOR) exam as HC writ challenges ‘suffering’ of AOR system

Supreme Court filing is not for everyone...
Supreme Court filing is not for everyone...

Exclusive: 71 advocates out of around 400 test takers have passed the June 2011 advocates-on-record (AOR) examination, making them part of the oligopoly of at least 1,000 advocates who can file petitions before the Supreme Court. However, the Delhi High Court has now taken up a writ challenging the AOR system and has approached the apex court for guidance.

According to the results uploaded on the Supreme Court website, 71 test takers passed the exam outright. The highest roll number of a candidate listed in the results is 396.

Advocates appearing for the exam must first take one year of continuous training from an existing advocate-on-record. Candidates are allowed five chances to pass the exam, except for those who fail all papers who will not be permitted to re-take the exam the next year.

Furthemore, 43 advocates may retake one or more papers of the test at the next exam under regulations 11(i) and (ii) to attempt to bring a single paper’s or the aggregate score up to pass level.

Advocates can retake only one paper that they failed under regulation 11(i) if they fail that paper with a grade above 40 per cent and pass all remaining papers with 60 per cent of total aggregate marks.

Under regulation 11(ii), those getting less than 60 per cent in aggregate without failing any single paper can also resit one papers where they scored less than 60 per cent to raise their score to the pass-level.

The AOR examination committee is headed by Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice DK Jain and Justice P Sathasivam.

Only AORs may file cases and may plead or instruct others to plead before the Supreme Court, including senior counsel.

Challenge to AOR supremacy

The PTI reported on 25 November that in hearing a writ, a Delhi High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw approached the Supreme Court to justify by 9 December why the AOR system should continue.

In the case Balraj Singh Malik Vs. Supreme Court of India through its Registrar General (WP(C) 8327/2011, the advocate petitioner Malik who is representing himself argued that the rules violated the fundamental right of other lawyers who had an equivalent qualification, according to PTI which reported that Malik said that a “large number of advocates are suffering professionally because of this rule giving the privilege only to advocates on record”.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), AOR Association, Solicitor General and Attorney General of India have also been issued with notices.

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