From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Advocate-on-Record (AoR)
Mains level : Read the attached story
- In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a public interest litigation filed by an Advocate-on-Record (AoR), emphasizing that an AoR cannot be a mere “signing authority.”
- This incident has sparked discussions on the role and significance of AoRs in the Indian legal system.
Who is an Advocate-on-Record (AoR)?
- Historical Roots: The AoR system is influenced by British legal practices, distinguishing between barristers who argue cases and solicitors who handle client matters. In India, senior advocates are designated by the Court, akin to barristers, and cannot solicit clients but are briefed by other lawyers, including AoRs.
- Exclusive Right to File Cases: Only an AoR is authorized to file cases before the Supreme Court of India. They serve as a vital link between litigants and the highest judicial authority in the country.
- Elite Legal Practitioners: AoRs are a select group of elite lawyers, primarily based in Delhi, whose legal practice predominantly revolves around the Supreme Court. They may also represent clients in other courts.
- Court of Last Opportunity: The concept behind the AoR system is to ensure that a litigant is represented by a highly qualified lawyer because the Supreme Court is often considered the last resort for legal remedies.
Becoming an AoR
- Eligibility Criteria: To qualify as an AoR, an advocate must meet specific criteria set by the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
- Examination: Aspiring AoRs must clear an examination conducted by the Supreme Court, which includes subjects like Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics, and Leading Cases.
- Training Requirement: Before taking the exam, an advocate must undergo training with a court-approved AoR for at least one year. This training is preceded by a minimum of four years of legal practice.
Responsibilities and Rules Governing AoRs
- Geographical Presence: AoRs must maintain an office in Delhi within a 16-kilometer radius of the Supreme Court.
- Employment of Registered Clerk: Upon registration as an AoR, an undertaking is required to employ a registered clerk within one month.
- Regulatory Authority: While Section 30 of the Advocates Act grants lawyers the right to practice law nationwide, it explicitly acknowledges the Supreme Court’s authority to establish rules under Article 145 of the Constitution for regulating its own procedure.