AoR’s to stay: Supreme Court dismisses challenges to AoR system

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today dismissed the three petitions challenging the constitution validity of the Advocate-on-Record system followed in the apex court.

A Division Bench of Anil R Dave and AK Goel JJ. dismissed the matter placing reliance on earlier judgments including that of Lily Thomas. Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra appeared for the Supreme Court while Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appeared for the petitioners.

The court was hearing three petitions filed by different lawyers challenging the vires of Section 52 (b) of the Advocates Act, 1961 as well as Rules 1, 5 and 7(a)(i), 7(b)(i) and 7(c) of Order IV of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 (SCR Rules, 2013).

The fundamental contention raised was that these provisions, which allow for the AoR system to exist,

“infringe the fundamental rights of the advocates at large and restrict their right to independently practice with dignity in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”

When the matter was taken up as item 8 in the morning, the petitioners sought an adjournment citing absence of Senior Advocates. The Court, however, refused to buy that argument and asked the lawyers to argue the case. The petitioners then sought a passover which was allowed by the Court.

When the matter was taken up in the afternoon, the petitioners informed the court that Ram Jethmalani was out of station and sought for adjournment. The Court again turned them down saying,

“Mr. Dwivedi is here. He will argue.”

Dwivedi then proceeded to make his submissions. He said that Section 30 of the Advocates Act have to be juxtaposed with Section 58 (3) of the Advocates Act to understand the consequences of the Act. He submitted that Section 52 of the Advocates Act does not have an overriding effect because if that were the case, Section 58 (3) would not have been inserted in the statute book.

Siddharth Luthra appearing for the Supreme Court submitted that Section 30 should be read along with Section 52. He submitted that the impugned Rules do not impose any absolute restriction and is well within the ambit of Article 145.

“The Rules do not take away the right of a lawyer to practise. It is not an absolute restriction.”

After a brief hearing, the court dismissed the matter.

More updates soon.

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