They may be rubbing shoulders with the best of legal eagles every day passing on valuable briefs to them,assisting them during the hearings,arguing various cases on their own and drafting all kinds of legal documents. But 92 per cent of these lawyers in the Supreme Court have failed to make the cut in professional ethics and advocacy.
In an examination conducted last year to select the new batch of Advocates On Record (AORs) among the lawyers practising in the apex court,420 out of around 450 aspirant lawyers flunked in paper number III professional ethics and advocacy. The result was declared recently.
These lawyers,as per the result,failed to convey satisfactorily their views on 12 questions in Paper III. The question paper called for their views on issues like how to harmonise duties as a lawyer and an officer of the court; whether or not to take up cases inconsistent with ones personal value system; the way lawyers should conduct themselves; their constraint to solicit a client like a businessman; whether or not to accept cases they find unfit for SC among other things.
The AOR league is considered prestigious and also propitious since they are the only lawyers eligible to file petitions in apex court.
The disclosure also amused Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir,particularly when informed that AOR exam was conducted under the aegis of the SC and not by the AOR association. Ok. So Supreme Court conducts it. How many failed? 420 out of 450? Thats a lot. What was the paper about? he asked when advocate Mukesh Kumar Sharma complained about the strange and shocking result.
Sharma,who scored 34 out of 100 in Paper III,whined about faulty and arbitrary evaluation system. How can persons who scored 60 or 70 in other papers get marks so much less like 3,4,5,8 and 11 in particularly one paper? he said,arguing for his petition.
Sharma pointed to the CJI-led Bench that the questions in this paper were not based on any relevant provisions of the Acts or Rules but only on the day-to-day working of the SC and general ethics of advocacy. The 12 questions in Paper III asked the candidates about their views on different issues and in different situations and hence the examiner had complete subjectivity,he said. He said he wanted rechecking of the answer sheets by an independent examination body.
The Bench then agreed to look into the possibility of re-evaluation and asked Sharma to serve the copy of the petition on the SC Registrar General to elicit the response on behalf of the SC.