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Advocate on record exam pass rate hits record low of 19% • VIPS Delhi, Nalsar alums top 125 new AORs, one reveals secret of success

Neha Malik, second time luckiest
Neha Malik, second time luckiest

The Supreme Court Advocates on Record (AOR) exam has produced the lowest pass rate in 4 years after it dropped down to 19%.

125 new AORs were announced on 24 February in the results of the June 2017 exam, which judging by the list of roll numbers in the results was taken by around 650 candidates.

Nalsar Hyderabad alumnus Dhananjay Mishra and VIPS Delhi 2010 alumnus Neha Malik scored the highest marks in this edition of the exam. Mishra was appearing for the exam for the first time but Malik was reappearing for it after having failed one out of the four papers that comprise the exam.

Malik, who was reappearing for the paper on Supreme Court practice and procedures, commented: “You can’t just go through the Supreme Court Rules 2013 and get through. You have to practically be very thorough with the procedure [followed for filing in the Supreme Court].”

Marks break up

Both Mishra and Malik scored 296 marks out of 400 or 74% marks each. Malik, who had scored 90, 72 and 68 marks out of 100 in the other three papers in the AOR exam in 2016, had failed the SC practice and procedure paper in 2016 after scoring only 43 marks out of 100.

An aggregate of 60% with at least 50% marks in each of the 4 papers is required to clear the exam. If candidates manage to score 60% aggregate marks while failing to clear one of the four papers with 50% marks, or if candidates fail to score an aggregate of 60% while clearing all the papers with at least 50% marks in each, they are allowed to reappear within one year.

Paper strategy

Malik was in the litigation team of Naik & Naik & Co and practising in the Bombay high court from 2010 to 2012, after which she joined the chambers of AORs Ravinder Narain and Rajan Narain and is continuing there.

She said that while the practice and procedure paper was not tougher than the paper on drafting and leading cases, it did require the kind of knowledge which comes only with “being very very regular practising at the Supreme Court” and merely “mugging up” the bare acts and rules does not cut it as preparation for the paper.

On the “toughest” paper - leading cases and drafting, she commented: “Its syllabus is very huge. The leading cases are more than 40 in number. Then there are recent judgments and the view of the Supreme Court on the same issues in the present scenario, the major changes and amendments in the constitution. So the most extensive study and most of your time goes in reading those cases.”

“All these years you have studied those cases with a different viewpoint but for this exam its a different ballgame altogether,“ she said adding,“apart from that the drafting paper requires very good skills on drafting special leave petitions - civil and criminal, affidavits, bills, general power of attorney and everything in 3 hours on fresh situations.”

She said that the classes for the exam, which senior advocates address one month before the exam - including ones such as Indira Jaising, PP Rao and TR Andhyarujina - were available free of cost to AOR exam aspirants and were extremely helpful due to “the way the elaborate and make suggestions about what they’re expecting out of us”.

24% AORs made it past the June 2016 exam while the pass rate in 2015 was 30% and in 2014 was 22%. The toppers last year were from Pune University and from Symbiosis Pune.

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