The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition challenging Regulation 12 of the Advocates-on-Record Examination, 2013, which bars revaluation of answer sheets.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal dismissed the petition filed by Ravi Chandra Prakash, an advocate, who had prayed that Regulation 12 be declared “arbitrary, unjust, unfair, unreasonable, inequitable and violative of Articles 14 of the Constitution of India”.
Prakash had challenged the regulations after he failed to succeed in his five attempts in the examination of Advocate on Record (AOR) from 2010 to 2016, where he claimed he was given less marks for certain answers but had no option of getting the answer sheets revaluated, the same being barred by the regulation under challenge.
“The petitioner has participated in five examinations conducted by the Supreme Court of India from 2010 till 2016. The petitioner is a qualified and experienced advocate who has put in over twelve years of legal practice and was fully aware of the Regulations regarding the AOR Examination. When he applied for and participated in the selection process, the petitioner was therefore, fully aware of the manner in which the said examination is conducted; the constitution of the Advocates on Record Examination Committee; the qualifications, expertise and abilities of the examiners as also the prohibition contained in Regulation 11 of the Regulations regarding AOR Examinations. He did not object to the same when he applied for the examination in 2010,” the bench noted.
“Regulation 12 of the Regulations unequivocally declared that no re-evaluation shall be entertained. The petitioner accepted all stipulations made in the Regulations and participated in the examination… Clearly, the petitioner is a candidate who has participated in the selection process and failed to succeed.
“…the petitioner has accepted the correctness of the evaluation process; the expertise of the examiners and reposed faith in the ability of the Examining Committee, when he participated in the examination five times, without making any objection or challenge, even if such challenge was maintainable. The petitioner therefore, would stand precluded from making the present challenge on this ground alone,” said the bench of Justice Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra.
The petition said regulations for conducting the examination for being placed as AOR do not contain any provision for rectifying errors, if any, occurring after evaluation of the answer sheets by examiners and as such do not provide for any standard method for evaluation of the answer sheets as is followed in various national and state level examinations (for instance, examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission or State Public Service Commission).
A practicing advocate in Delhi with 12 years’ experience at the Bar, Prakash participated in the AOR examination in 2010 and then in 2011, 2012, 2013 and for the fifth time in 2016, which was his last available attempt.
A person who fails to clear the AOR Examination does not lose the right to argue cases before the court, but only loses the authority to file petitions and to file vakalatnama before the Supreme Court.
After being declared unsuccessful, he moved an RTI plea in the Supreme Court to find that he had obtained 52.5 marks in Paper I – Supreme Court Practice and Procedure and needed 11.5 marks more to qualify.
The petitioner says he got his answer sheets assessed by senior advocates in the Supreme Court, who were of the opinion that he should have been awarded higher marks in various answers.
Armed with such opinion, Prakash made a representation on March 3 to the Advocates on Record Examination Committee requesting reevaluation of his answer sheets in Paper – I (Supreme Court Practice and Procedure) and Paper – III (Legal Ethics), by a body of experts who were not examiners in the AOR Examination, 2016, so that justice may be done to him. He also requested that the committee adopt a lenient view and grant 11.5 marks to enable him to qualify the examination, as it was his last attempt. But, his representation was rejected on March 30.