The Supreme Court is upset with the way lawyers tasked with filing cases in the top court are discharging, or rather not discharging, their duties.
Criticising the poor quality of work being done by advocates-on-record (AORs), two benches have questioned the “rampant unethical practice” by some. They are just lending their names without taking any responsibility, the court has said.
“… The advocates-on-record do not appear when matters are listed before the court, nor do they take any interest or responsibility for processing or conducting the case.”
AORs are enrolled by the apex court after a test and all cases in the top court, except those filed by petitioners in person, must be filed through them.
If an advocate-on-record was merely to lend his name for filing cases without being responsible for it, “the very purpose of having the system of advocates-on-record would get defected”, a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam has said. The bench was reacting to a divorce case in which the petitioner had directly moved the court before exhausting the statutory remedies and without a legal ground to do so.
Within two days of marriage, a couple moved a Delhi court for divorce by mutual consent. The woman came to the SC after the trial court refused to give instant divorce, citing statutory provisions that required them to come to it again after six months.
When the SC bench sought the assistance of an AoR, he could appear only on the third date and “could not furnish any explanation to defend the petition…”.
Terming it “reprehensible”, the bench said, “The petition has been filed without any sense of responsibility either by the parties or their counsel.” Such a practice, it said, adversely affected the administration of justice.
A bench headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran has already issued notices to the Supreme Court Bar Association and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association to suggest ways to check the unethical practice of name-lending by AORs and compel them “to serve the purpose for which they have been enrolled”.