Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bar Examination Of India 2010 Challenged Before Court

Editor LNAV

As expected the bar examinations proposal of Bar Council of India (BCI) witnessed its first legal challenge. Six law graduates have approached the Gujarat High Court challenging the BCI’s resolution that requires students like them to clear the bar exams for getting a licence to practice law in India. The division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi has posted the matter for hearing Wednesday.

The Petitioners have challenged the provisions of rules 9, 10 and 11 of the Advocates Act, 1961 that require that a person applying for licence to practice in courts must be a law graduate. The BCI resolution on the other hand imposes an additional and unmentioned requirement of bar exams. This decision was bound to be challenged before various high courts of India.

In the present case the petitioners completed their graduation in law in 2008-09 and completed specialisation in 2009-10. They maintain that the BCI would conduct the examination December 5, 2010 and this would lead to loss of six months to them due to implementation of the new rules. They have requested for a declaration from the high court that directs the BCI to grant them the licence to practice, while the petitioners would appear in the exams later. The continuation of the licence would be subject to the result of the test.

There are other grounds as well on the basic of which the bar exams may be challenged. For instance, the proposed bar exams may be challenged as being unfair and unreasonable.

The proposed exam may also be challenged on the basis that it violates the principles of administrative law of India. For example, the way BCI has involved Rainmaker without any democratic, open and transparency selection procedure is against all principles of fairness and reasonableness.

Further, since Rainmaker also appears to be both coordinator of bar exam as well as distributor of study material and many more aspects, there is an obvious, patent and inherent conflict of interest that is not permissible by Indian laws.

Another ground of challenge is that the proposed exam is devoid of any qualitative standards under whose banner the BCI is conducting the exam. If the main purpose of bar exam is maintaining the quality of the lawyers in India, the very same purpose is defeated by making the bar exams an empty formality. The present scheme of bar exams is nothing but an empty formality with no merit consideration but a redundant barrier for final year law graduates.

If BCI is really serious about the bar exams it must remove all the illegalities and irregularities of its acts or omissions.