The Advocates-on-Record (AOR) examination, one of the top 10 toughest exams in India is conducted annually between May and June. The Supreme Court scrapped the exam in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is now likely to held in June 2021. The examination is conducted by the Board of Examiners comprising of senior advocates under the supervision of a committee of three judges of the Supreme Court. It is usually held at the court building in New Delhi.
The examination is tough to crack and only less than 1 in 5 clear it. There is no set pattern for the examination and it varies from MCQs to subjective questions every year. The examination consists of 4 subjective papers conducted on consecutive days. The structure of the paper is as follows:
Day 1- Paper I: Practice and Procedure
The subject matter includes relevant provisions in the Constitution of India that relates to jurisdiction of the court, Supreme Court Rules and relevant provisions of the CPC, the Limitation Act and the General Principles of Court Fees Act.
Day 2- Paper II: Drafting
This includes petitions for Special Leave, Statements of Cases and Decrees, Orders and Writs.
Day 3- Paper III: Advocacy and Professional Ethics
This includes the Advocates Act and cases reported under the Advocates Act, particularly disciplinary proceedings, cases relating to the Contempt of Court involving advocates, the Bar Council of India Rules and the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
Day 4- Paper IV: Leading Cases
Head notes of the leading cases shall be made available by the Registry to the candidates at the examination hall on the day of examination and the same must be returned to the invigilators at the end of the examination.
Each paper is for 3 hours and the maximum marks for each paper is 100. To pass the examination, the candidate must obtain a minimum of 50% in each paper and 60% in the aggregate.
A candidate who obtains 40% in one paper but obtains 60% aggregate in the remaining papers, shall be allowed to reappear for that paper, after payment of the full examination fee. Similarly, a candidate who passes in all papers but fails to obtain 60% aggregate, shall be allowed to reappear for any one paper after payment of the full examination fee. In both cases, the candidate shall be declared to have passed the AOR examination only when the marks obtained in the re-examination taken with the marks obtained in the earlier examination are 60% of the aggregate in all papers.
A candidate who fails in all papers shall not be permitted to appear in the next examination and one shall not be allowed more than 5 chances at the examination. An application for re-evaluation is strictly prohibited. If the Committee, on the recommendation of the Board of Examiners is of the opinion that a candidate is not sufficiently prepared for the examination, then they may prescribe a time limit within which the candidate shall not present oneself for the examination.
After thorough scrutiny of the answer papers, the Board of Examiners submits them for approval from the Committee, and the Committee may in its discretion, moderate the results as it deems fit. After the Committee's approval, the Secretary of the Board notifies the results on the court's notice board. Every candidate who is declared to have passed the examinations shall receive a certificate under the hand of the Secretary.
A few tips to crack the examination:
- Make writing a practice since each answer is marked for its precision and structure.
- Go through the past years' question papers. You can find them here: https://main.sci.gov.in/aor-exam
- The SC AOR Association (SCAORA) regularly organizes lectures by top lawyers among the best lawyers in India. Attend these to gain a perspective. You can find them here: http://scaoraindia.com/videos.aspx
- Network and try to get in touch with people who have cracked the examination.
- Visit your local libraries for commentaries, digests and other relevant materials. You can also visit sites such as SCC Online and Manupatra for e-resources.
- Check for free study materials or the best online courses in India offered by legal websites.
- Check out the list of most important books prescribed by the Committee on the recommendation of the Board of Examiners for the examination.
- Be thorough with the latest judgments.
- As per the Supreme Court’s Website, there are only 2500 AORs (approximately) as updated on 13/02/2021.
- Now, the biggest high court in India such as Madras HC are planning to launch the concept of AOR in High Court: for improvising the entire functioning if the courts.
- The Supreme Court Advicate on Record Association has been in existence since 1985 in order to promote the status of AORs and train them.
- With the ascent of President of India in 1965, the concept of AOR came to be formalised.