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Advocates can file cases in High Court without passing AoR exam after Patna HC repeals AoR rules

“Registration of Advocates as Advocates on Record of the Patna High Court Rules” has recently been repealed, and the Bihar Gazette published a notice to that effect on April 8, 2022.

The AoR Rules have been criticized for a long time by the lawyer community in Bihar, and protests by Lawyers associations have taken place against the AoR system. 

PATNA LAWYERS STRIKE

In  year 2020, the Patna High Court Lawyers Association passed a unanimous resolution calling for the removal of the AOR system in Patna High Court.

The Patna High Court in 2009, amended the Patna High Court Rules, 1916, and also framed the “Registration of Advocates as Advocates-on-Record of the Patna High Court Rules”.

The effect of the Amendment was that an advocate, who is registered with the Bar Council of any State, would not be entitled to practise in the Patna High Court in any manner unless he passes the AoR examination conducted by the High Court and is recognized as Advocate on Record (AOR).

The conditions, subject to which an advocate can apply for appearing in the examination, are stipulated in Rule 5.

Advocate can apply for appearing in the examination, the conditions, subject to which are stipulated in Rule 5.

The following conditions to be eligible for AoR: (1) Has an office in the city of Patna (2) Has a Registered Clerk working with him exclusively or with other advocates collectively; and (3) Has been recommended in writing at least by one Senior Advocate.

A further condition is imposed by Rule 7(vi) which stipulates mandatory one year training under an AoR with a standing of 10 years.

The Rules were further  amended in 2015 giving power to the Chief Justice to exempt the retired Judicial Officers, who apply for registration as Advocate on Record of Patna High Court from the A.O.R examination.

Soon after the AoR Rules came into force, some lawyers filed writ petitions challenging it. They contended that these AoR Rules a) their fundamental right to pursue the profession is infringed, b) their legal right conferred under Section 30 of the Act is abrogated, c) the High Court has encroached into the powers of the Bar Council, and that d) the Rules are not only arbitrary and oppressive, but also are, discriminatory in nature.

Review petitions were filed against the judgment mainly contending that in R.K. Anand Vs. Registrar, Delhi High Court,(2009) 8 SCC 106, the Supreme Court has issued directions to the High Courts to frame rules under Section 34 of the Act and consider making of rules, on the subject of Advocate-on-Record, on the pattern of Supreme Court.

Taking note of this, the Full Bench then headed by the then Acting Chief Justice I. A. Ansari recalled the judgment [2015 (4) PLJR 328]. It also observed that the judgment under review did not consider the impact of the observation of the Supreme court in Harish Uppal’s case vis-a-vis Section 30 of the Advocates Act.

“The “Registration of Advocates as Advocate- on-Record of the Patna High Court Rules” i.e A.o.R. Rules of Patna High Court framed under heading (D) in Chapter XXIV of Part-V of the Patna High Court Rules, 1916 vide CS No.126 is hereby repealed”, the order reads.

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