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Analysis of the Advocates Act, 1961: Supreme Court’s Authority to Frame Rules and the Advocate on Record System


The Advocates Act of 1961 serves as the backbone for legal practice in India, outlining the rights and responsibilities of advocates. Despite the Act’s lack of specific restrictions on an advocate’s right to practice, the Supreme Court holds the authority to impose regulations through the Advocate on Record (AOR) system. By examining Section 52 of the Advocates Act and relevant constitutional provisions, the legal framework governing the AOR system comes into focus.

Understanding Section 52 of the Advocates Act, 1961

Section 52 of the Advocates Act, 1961, empowers the Supreme Court to establish rules for practicing in the court under Article 145 of the Constitution. The provision of “Saving” within Section 52 emphasizes the exemption of the Supreme Court’s power from the Act’s conditions and obligations. This provision explicitly allows the Supreme Court to create regulations for legal practice in the court, ensuring quality and competence among practitioners.

Historical Precedents

Even in pre-independence India, the Government of India Act, of 1935, granted the Federal Court the authority to frame rules for practitioners, indicating a historical precedence for the Supreme Court’s regulatory powers.

Constitutional Validity and Reasonable Restrictions

The AOR system has faced challenges regarding its compatibility with Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. However, legal precedents have established that the eligibility conditions do not constitute an absolute restraint on trade and profession. As long as these conditions are reasonable and not arbitrary or excessive, they are permissible under the Constitution.

Ensuring Quality and Efficiency in Litigation

The primary goal of the AOR system is to ensure the standard and efficacy of litigation before the Supreme Court. By mandating a five-year practice period under a senior advocate, followed by a qualifying examination, the system aims to equip practitioners with practical skills and a deep understanding of court proceedings.

Distinct Role of the Advocate on Record

It’s important to note that the AOR system does not create a new category of advocates but rather designates advocates with specific skills and expertise in Supreme Court practice. This designation acknowledges the unique requirements of arguing cases in the apex court, promoting specialization and proficiency among practitioners.

What is the process for becoming an Advocate on Record?

To become an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India, the following requirements and steps must be fulfilled:


  • Possession of a law degree from a recognized Indian or foreign university.
  • Minimum of five years of active practice as an advocate.
  • Registration with a State Bar Council in India.
  • Clean record with no criminal charges or instances of professional misconduct.


  • Obtain the application form for Advocate on Record registration from the Supreme Court of India’s website or office.
  • Complete the application form accurately and provide the necessary documentation, including proof of meeting the aforementioned requirements, along with the prescribed fee in the form of a demand draft.
  • Clear the written examination conducted by the Supreme Court of India, which evaluates the candidate’s understanding of procedural laws, court rules, and the Indian Constitution.
  • Undergo training and attend orientation classes organized by the Supreme Court Registry.
  • Upon successfully meeting all eligibility criteria and completing the requisite training, the candidate will be registered as an Advocate on Record, receiving a unique identification number to be used on all documents filed in the Supreme Court.
  • Becoming an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India demands significant dedication and experience. It’s important to note that only a limited number of advocates are registered as AORs, leading to intense competition for registration.


In conclusion, the Advocate on Record system is instrumental in maintaining the quality and efficiency of litigation in the Supreme Court. By setting eligibility criteria and promoting specialized training, the system contributes to the overall enhancement of legal practice in the apex court.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Advocate on Record (AOR) system?

The AOR system is a regulatory framework established by the Supreme Court of India to ensure competence and proficiency among advocates practicing in the court. It mandates specific eligibility criteria and training requirements for practitioners appearing before the Supreme Court.

What are the benefits of the AOR system for the legal profession?

The AOR system helps maintain high standards of legal practice in the Supreme Court by ensuring that advocates possess the requisite skills and experience to handle complex cases. It promotes specialization and expertise among practitioners, contributing to the overall effectiveness of the judicial process

Are the restrictions imposed by the AOR system in violation of constitutional rights?

The eligibility conditions set by the AOR system are deemed reasonable and necessary to ensure the quality and efficiency of litigation in the Supreme Court. As long as these restrictions are not arbitrary or excessive and are in the interest of the general public, they do not violate the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution.

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