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Advocate-on-Record in Supreme Court of India

The Indian Supreme Court grants the privilege for a representative designated as an Advocate-on-Record (AOR) to act and argue in favour of their clients pursuant to the Order IV, Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, which have been founded in compliance with Article 145 of the Indian Constitution. Other advocates are not authorized to file an appearance or represent a party before the Supreme Court.

Unless instructed by an Advocate-on-Record, no advocate may appear or argue in any matter in Supreme Court. An Advocate-on-Record is a legally trained professional who can practice law in all courts and tribunals in India. All documents filed in the SC must include the unique identification number of the AOR, which is allotted to them upon registration. No other High Court in India has a similar provision of engaging an AOR. A law firm having all partners as Advocate-on-Record can be registered as an Advocate-on-Record.

An advocate is allowed to assist in brief, collect all documents related to the case and help in the drafting as well vis-�-vis an AOR. An AOR's guidance allows him to effectively present an argument and make an appeal. However, he cannot file cases utilizing his own Wakalatnama.

Furthermore, Supreme Court Bar Association membership may also be attained by an Advocate on Record. Under the guidance of an Advocate on Record (AOR), he can make appeals and present legal arguments in a case. Though, there are limitations to his ability to file an official case using his Wakalatnama. Moreover, being an Advocate on Record makes him eligible to join the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Qualifications of an Advocate-on-Record:

To qualify as an Advocate-on-Record, one must meet the requirements set forth in the Supreme Court of India Rules, 2013, and 'Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination'. AOR must be enrolled with any State Bar Council and should not be a designated Senior Advocate. He should have completed 4 years of legal practice on the date of commencement of his/her one-year training under an AOR approved by the Court. After completion of training of one year with the AOR, the advocate has to appear for an examination conducted by the Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court's AOR Examination is a multipart assessment that evaluates a candidate's drafting expertise, ability to manage legal matters, and comprehension of procedural laws. Typically involving four papers, this comprehensive test leaves no stone unturned. As on 19.12.2022, there are 3041 Advocates-on-Record of Supreme Court of India. The four papers of AOR examination are: Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics and Leading Cases.

After being summoned by the Supreme Court's AOR Committee, hopeful applicants will undergo an interview to determine if they are suitable to become an AOR. This interview will appraise the candidate's readiness and comprehension of the role's responsibilities.

Advocates-on-Record of the Supreme Court are officially enrolled once they successfully clear the interview as candidates.

Within a 16-kilometer radius of the Supreme Court in Delhi, the AOR must keep an office and pledge to appoint a clerk who is registered clerk of the said Advocate-on-Record with the Supreme Court, within one month of becoming an AOR with the Supreme Court. He has to pay nominal registration fees of Rs 250 along with the registration form.

Only then will they be accepted as an Advocate-on-Record by the Chamber Judge of the Supreme Court. The roster system in the Supreme Court of India calls for rotation of the "Chamber Judge," who is summoned to hear urgent legal matters and provide provisional relief, whenever the entire court is not in session. Essentially, whenever the full court is not present, the chamber judge is the go-to authority.

If you're a Solicitor belonging to the Bombay Incorporated Law Society and registered with the State Bar Council for a minimum of seven years prior to submitting your application for registration as an Advocate-on-Record, there's no need for you to take the aforementioned examination.

The AOR system enables direct case filing and appearance in the Supreme Court for enrolled individuals. These AORs play an essential part in representing clients across a range of issues before the Apex Court of India. This process ensures that advocates who represent clients possess the needed proficiency and expertise to perform their duties successfully.

Advantages of Advocates-on-Record

The advantages of becoming an Advocate on Record (AOR) in the Supreme Court of India are many, such as:

  • A focused and specialized legal career can arise from the exclusivity of AORs who are permitted to exclusively practice in the Supreme Court. This authorization grants them the ability to practice law exclusively in this court.
  • Increased earning potential can be a result of the higher fees commanded by AORs for their services compared to those practicing in lower courts. Typically, these fees are higher than those charged by lawyers in lower courts.
  • Being designated as an AOR in the Supreme Court is an incredibly esteemed title among legal professionals, signaling a level of prestige that is out of reach for most. It is viewed as truly elite.
  • India's Supreme Court provides a national jurisdiction, which permits advocacy legal representatives to handle assorted lawsuits with vast national implications.
  • Including vital civil and criminal cases, constitutional matters, and public interest litigations, the AORs professionally handle an assorted selection of cases.
  • Dealing with significant legal complexities, the Supreme Court offers AORs the opportunity to grow intellectually through professional challenges.
  • Often, career opportunities arise for AORs to work alongside esteemed law firms, senior advocates, and corporate clients who are seeking litigation in the Supreme Court.
  • Collaboration and new opportunities can come through AORs networking and making connections with legal professionals, senior advocates, and judges. This is a valuable chance to establish connections that might otherwise be difficult to achieve.
  • The resources and facilities of the Supreme Court Bar Association are at the disposal of members who gain admission via AORs.
  • The Supreme Court has an abundance of legal resources available at its expansive library and research facilities. These resources are accessible to AORs for research purposes.
  • AORs play a crucial role in the development of this facet of the Indian legal system. In the top court of the country, the AORs serve an indispensable duty in upholding the legal system's regulations and the management of fairness.
  • In the highest court of the land, AORs have a crucial responsibility in maintaining the rule of law and the administration of justice.
  • Only an AOR can file Wakalatnama in the Supreme Court on behalf of the client. Wakalatnama is a document in writing, appointing a lawyer or pleader to represent the client's matter in the court of law. In any matter, an AOR must be the sole advocate to appear and plead in the Supreme Court unless instructed otherwise.

    The AOR exclusively receives any correspondence or order from the Supreme Court. It is necessary to get a certificate issued by an AOR in order to file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. The Court's fees and charges fall under the AOR's personal responsibility for payment.

Although, on instructions from the AOR and with the permission of Court, an Advocate other than AOR can also address the Court in a matter. Every advocate practicing in the Supreme Court is not an AOR, which is quite fascinating.

Problems faced by Advocates-on-Record:
In India, Advocates on Record (AORs) are professionals who are eligible to conduct legal proceedings in the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, their legal practice may come up against a myriad of hindrances and complications.

For instance, the AORs could face some of these issues:

  • Becoming an AOR in the Supreme Court is not an easy feat. The admission process is challenging, requiring candidates to pass a written test and meet additional requirements. Furthermore, many who attempt to navigate this process report difficulty and frustration.
  • Establishing oneself as an AOR can be a challenge due to the intense competition and limited number of positions available. New lawyers may face difficulty in becoming an AOR due to these factors.
  • Often juggling a heavy caseload, AORs are tasked with managing multiple cases concurrently, resulting in a demanding workload and prolonged working hours.
  • AORs have to deal with time constraints that can cause stress and consume a lot of their time, meeting strict court deadlines and procedural requirements.
  • Efficiently managing and tracking various cases while complying with court procedures and deadlines is crucial for AORs in case management.
  • Conducting thorough legal research and staying updated with the latest legal developments is crucial for AORs, though it is a time-consuming task.
  • Practice for AORs requires the highest ethical standards, which can be tough in certain situations as with any lawyer.
  • Meeting the demanding expectations of clients in complex cases can be challenging. Keeping clients informed and managing their expectations are crucial components.
  • For certain AORs, keeping up with legal technology and software can be a difficult task.
  • Their income is influenced by the way AORs charge for multiple services via specified fee scales.
  • Investing time in continuing legal education is crucial for legal professionals, such as AORs, to keep up with changing regulations and laws.
  • Achieving a work-life balance can be quite the feat for AORs, as their line of work is incredibly demanding, much like other legal professions.

Court Judgments:
Petitions were being filed without proper scrutiny, causing the Supreme Court to express their disappointment with Advocates-on-Record who are solely being used for signing off on them, observed the Apex Court in the case of Mohan Chandra P v. State of Karnataka and Ors.

In a contempt plea against Advocate ML Sharma and an Advocate-on-Record, the Supreme Court has deemed the job of Advocates-on-Record to be sacrosanct and has forbidden them from blindly signing petitions without careful examination. The Court highlighted that Advocates-on-Record have immense responsibility and must exercise caution when putting down their signatures. Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and A.S. Oka emphasized that signing everything without proper scrutiny is unacceptable.

Supreme Court has power to prescribe who can plead before it, the Apex Court observed while dismissing a plea challenging Advocates-on-Record System., 16 November 2022

Admission into the AOR ranks is subject to a rigorous process, involving written exams and other prerequisites. However, the rewards of achieving this status are many. Once accepted, AORs must firmly adhere to strict codes of conduct, ensuring their ethical behavior. Their role in the Indian legal system, particularly within the context of the Supreme Court, emphasizes that AORs face challenges that are important to note. Nevertheless, their work contributes significantly to administering justice in the country.

If you've been training at the Supreme Court, then cracking AOR examinations isn't too difficult. The key is to memorize the Supreme Court Rules, 2013. This helps with everything from drafting and practicing procedure to ethics paper. Despite the fact that leading case laws are an open book examination, the examinees still find it to be the most challenging.

Keeping an eye on time management during exams is crucial. It is imperative that you attend the Senior Advocates' lectures given by the Supreme Court and not avoid them for any reason. Understanding the importance of lectures delivered by the experts is crucial.

To properly answer the questions, it's essential to take the time to read and comprehend each one. The advantages of becoming an AOR are endless. By achieving this certification, one becomes a recognized advocate of the Supreme Court with the ability to plead in their name. Many private and public companies exclusively seek out the services of AORs for their legal representation. High Court advocates are also familiar with AORs. Being an AOR helps amplify the practice and builds self-assurance.


Written By: Md.Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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