What is the Supreme Court of India?
Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the country in India. It hears petitions relating to Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Rights of the citizens under its Original Jurisdiction and also Appeals from all courts lower to it in hierarchy under its Appellate jurisdiction. It even hears disputes between States and/or Union Government.
Practicing as an Advocate before the Supreme Court needs strong knowledge of law and Advocacy, as the matters have very crucial importance to the clients, and sometimes there might be no appeal after this stage of litigation. Ideally new lawyers work under established seniors for a good period of time to understand the unique law practice at the Apex court of India
What is an Advocate-on-Record?
As the Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the country, its time is very important, and there are huge number of cases to be heard. To streamline and standardize the way of administering justice, and representation by the Advocates before this Court, a very important system was brought into force. For any Advocate to file a case and pursue it before the Supreme Court, he must have special & pivotal knowledge of all stages of litigation at the Supreme Court. This is being tested by a set of exams conducted by the Supreme Court itself, where some top Jurists even deliver fantastic lectures for aspiring candidates. The person who clears these examinations is given the title of Advocate on Record at Supreme Court of India.
Other Advocates can indeed represent their cases before the Supreme Court, but primarily an AOR must file the case, and the AOR has to generally appear along with this Advocate before the Court during the hearings.
How to become Advocate-on-Record (AOR)?
1. Any Advocate intending to become an AOR must need to have atleast 5 years of Advocacy experience, during the time of writing the exam.
2. After 4 years of practice, the Advocate must inform the Supreme Court regarding his intention to start training for AOR, along with required consent letters and forms.
3. He/she must join an established AOR and take 1 year training under him.
4. He/she must apply, study and pass the required papers of the AOR exam.
5. He/she must show that they have an office within 10 miles of the Supreme Court.
6. He/she must have a designate Court clerk for all their work.
Schedule of AOR Examination:
The notification of the AOR exam is usually given in March month of a year, the exam is conducted usually in June month of the year, the results are usually declared after about 8 months of the exam in March of next year. After doing the required process, the successful candidates are given AOR status by an order of the Supreme Court usually in May/June of the year.
A typical timeline could be, notifications are given in March 2022, Exams are conducted in June 2022, results are declared in March 2023, AOR status is given in June 2023.
Benefits of becoming Advocate-on-Record?
1. It can be a personal achievement for an ambitious lawyer.
2. As of June 2020, there are less than 3000 AOR’s in the Supreme Court of India. Only these Advocates can file a Vakalatnama in this Court, a unique distinction indeed.
3. Any Lawyer / Law office can save money which is usually spent towards paying an AOR. Some Law Offices might prefer incoming Lawyers who also are AOR.
Challenges regarding AOR exam:
The AOR exam is no doubt very tough. It takes a lot of motivation, guidance and preparation to excel in this special exam. Some Advocates take long leave from the profession to concentrate fully for this exam.
Shortest route possible:
Generally, enrolments for new Advocates take effect during August-September of a given year. Due to this, to get eligible for the AOR exam, applicants actually need to apply almost after 6 years of enrolment, and if they pass in the first attempt, that will be about 7 years after they have been enrolled. Some Advocates even apply after 10 or 15 years of practice.
AOR Exam 2020 deferred:
As most of the businesses of the world are affected by the Covid-19 crisis, Supreme Court too had to suffer in multiple ways. The AOR Exam for 2020 is deferred as per news reports. Aspirants have to keep watching Supreme Court of India website for further updates.
Citations / Further Reading:
The author is the founder of VakeelSahab.com and an Advocate practicing in Hyderabad, Telangana. This article was first published on 05 July 2020.