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PIL waveA Chennai advocate and a retired mechanical engineer from Ahmedabad have independently filed two further writ petitions claiming that the Bar Council of India (BCI) is violating the 1961 Advocates Act and India's constitution by holding an all-India bar exam.

Case 3: Madras (WP.12627/2010 PIL)

Chennai advocate M Radhakrishnan filed a PIL in Madras High Court yesterday (17 June). He claimed that under Chapter IV of the Advocates Act the BCI could not prescribe additional prerequisites to enrolment and practice, according to the Press Trust of India, and that the BCI was violating Article 14 of India's constitution, which guarantees "equality before the law".

The PTI said that Radakrishnan submitted that since the BCI had "already prescribed the standards of legal education to be observed by universities in the country, it could not again hold any test in the very subjects it had already prescribed. As per law, a degree in law was sufficient for one to get enrolled as an advocate and commence practice."

This entitlement had been taken away by the impugned resolution imposing a condition which was superfluous, he said according to the PTI, adding that since BCI recognised degrees awarded by universities, the degrees could not be tested again for any reason whatsoever and that the BCI's resolution was arbitrary and violative of the constitution.

Case 2: Gujarat (SCA/6838/2010)

What brought on the wave of legal challenges?

The BCI resolution that amended the Bar Council's Rules 9, 10 and 11 under section 49(1)(ah) of the Advocates Act was passed on 10 April 2010.

However, it is understood that the BCI's resolution was only notified and published in the Gazette of India on 12 June 2010, which is a prerequisite for BCI resolutions to become effective.

This had the effect of allowing legal challenges to the resolution, according to an authoritative source.
Meanwhile, social activist and retired mechanical engineer Babubhai Vaghela has also filed a PIL against the bar exam, which was listed for its admissions hearing at the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday (16 June 2010).

"To conduct an exam for conferring the right to practise on the one who passes it would mean giving him/her the right to practise," Vaghela said, according to Indian national daily DNA. "It is an essential feature and subject of legislative policy, which has to come from Parliament. BCI cannot legislate an essential feature."

It is understood that Vaghela's petition has similar grounds to Radhakrishnan's Madras PIL, praying that the BCI was a regulator and did not have the power to amend the Advocates Act, which in its current state did not permit the BCI to hold the exam.

Vaghela declined to comment when contacted by Legally India as the matter was currently sub judice. After retirement, he is understood to have become a right to information (RTI) activist who also filed his first PIL in 2009, which unsuccessfully challenged the November 2009 Common Admission Test (CAT) to elite IIM management colleges.

Vaghela's bar exam petition was filed separately from Wednesday's Gujarat High Court writ petition filed by six Gujarat University law graduates, who challenged far narrower grounds of the bar exam (SCA/6838/2010). They argued that the bar exam should not apply to them because they completed a two-year LLB degree in 2009 before the cut-off date for the bar exam, followed by an additional advocacy specialisation as part of their degree in 2010.

The Gujarat High Court bench, however, is understood to have adjourned both Gujarat hearing until 8 August 2010, to allow the Supreme Court case of Bar Council of India vs Bonnie FOI Law College to be heard on 30 July.

The Bonnie FOI case

The case of Bar Council of India vs Bonnie FOI Law College and Ors was originally heard in Jabalpur High Court in 2007 and concerned BCI inspections of law colleges.

When the case reached the Supreme Court in 2008 the bench also addressed issues related to general legal education reform to improve standards.

In 2009 Gopal Subramanium appeared in the Supreme Court Bonnie FOI case for the petitioner in his capacity as solicitor general before he became the BCI chairman in April 2010. Subramanium proposed the holding of an all India bar exam as part of a three-member Committee report on improving legal education, which was submitted to the apex court.

However, the Supreme Court bench has so far not explicitly addressed the legality of a bar exam, which could be outside the original ambit of the original Bonnie FOI case, according to several sources familiar with the issues.

In NUJS Kolkata's May 2010 petition to postpone the bar exam to 2011, NUJS professor Shamnad Basheer argued that the case of V. Sudeer v. Bar Council of India, AIR 1999 SC 1167 [case link here] was currently a binding precedent on whether the BCI had the power to impose any pre-enrolment criteria to qualification.

"In Sudeer, the court categorically held that any additional eligibility criteria for the practice of law over and above what was mentioned in Section 24 of the Advocates Act was unconstitutional. Particularly if such additional criteria amounted to either a bar exam or a training of some sort, since the power to mandate such exams/training was expressly taken away via an amendment in 1974 to the Advocates Act," wrote Basheer.

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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 abhay11 2010-06-18 18:54
We are law graduate, and got our degree, by affiliate university by bar [council] in india, if the Bar counile of india, ask for all India bar exam, it means the degree we got, from the university which are affiliated by bar [council] of india, applied the rules and regulation of bar [council] but have the [monitoring] by bar, was not able to produce capable law graduates,
BY HAVING ALL INDIA BAR [COUNCIL] EXAM, BAR [COUNCIL] IS [CHALLENGING] THEMSELF.....
WE THE LAW GRADUATES ARE SO, SILENT THAT, WE DON'T WANT TO FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHT.....
AND EVEN FILE A [WRIT] PETITION IN SUPREME COURT OF INDIA........
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-18 20:08
[Off topic, spelling errors acknowledged.]
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-18 21:03
[Off topic, spelling errors acknowledged.]
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-18 21:14
Refer Above
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-18 21:45
The BCI is a monopolistic political outfit that has been obstructing important reforms for too long (foreign law firms, foreign univs, anti-corruption measures etc). Like the MCI the BCI should be disbanded. If the BCI thinks Indian lawyers need to give a bar exam, why did it give accredition to random colleges? There should be a CBI inquiry into this, just as there is one going on against the MCI. All these PILs basically illustrate the shortcomings of the stone-age advocates act. This joke of a statue has to be amended to allow foreign law firms and a barrister-solicitor distinction.


BAR COUNCIL HAI HAI!! VEERAPPA MOILY HAI HAI!!
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 02:22
Rebuke of fellow commentors should stop in this forum. All above highlighted the typo/spelling error at post 1 and none commented on the view which post 1 actually forwarded.

All rebuking post 1, What has Bar Exam to do with spelling mistakes? Microsoft Word is there for it. Take part in constructive commenting and not on such negative criticism/ comments.

According to me, Bar Exam without proper legal/parliament sanction is void. BCI does not have the authority to establish another class of advocates. AA envisages only one class of advocates. I am sure, more writs will be filled and soon we will have a verdict from the apex court.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 03:07
if we are talking about the education system in our country we should be talking about initiatives such as the Quiz.. i guess that such initiatives can change the education system
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 05:04
Bar council wants that studnts instead of concentrating on studies now concentrate on most ideotic decisions of BCI.

I can say that this is the time when we can teach BCI a lesson
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 05:21
i too want foreign law firms because i will be able to get protection money from them. i will teach the BCI a lesson. my boys (gandhians with guns) are working on it. if you have any suggestions on what my boys should do to the BCI please express them here. love and regards, [...]
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 05:33
#9 Sir i m highly delighted by ur courage even i think that we want one gandhi with guns, SO what are ur plans in which court you want to file writ pls explain so that we can pool our resources
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 06:01
@10 Gandhians with Guns do not need to file writs. They just blow up trains and kill innocents !!!
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 07:05
The Bar Council is itself corrupt. Colleges in Bangalore and Tirupati do not conduct classes and students of course don't attend any, and you have attendance records cooked up for students and lecturers. Principals of some of these colleges take a few thousand rupees and let you bring in textbooks to the exam hall. These colleges have absolutely no facilities whatsoever and I know of typists, bench clerks and chopdars of Mad HC judges who are pursuing a law degree from these universities. The Bar Council is fully aware of this - much like the rest of the world. How does this thrive? For a fact, this shows BCI inspection committee members and office bearers are hand in glove with the managements. Something as rampant as this should have come up to the knowledge of the presidents, past and present. Are they guilty of corruption too?
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 08:42
LI pls do a report on the india today ranking. it's an imp issue
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 08:53
@12:

I had once described the BCI as "corrupt" but the word was censored. great to see that LI are finally shedding it's bias after the criticisms made against them for sucking up to the BCI and the anti-liberalisation lobby.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 10:16
Time to disband the Bar Council, for a double whammy that it is: one, it has not helped better anything for anyone, and two, it's now seeking to screw up everything for everyone.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-19 13:57
CAT is held for IIMs. JEE is for IITs. Kindly correct this error in your news report

[Many thanks, Ed]
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 rayjithmark 2010-06-19 21:11
Attitude of the students must change towards such Rules. There is nothing bad in writing an examination. The students are just revising their memory. Even practicing Advocates can be asked to write an exam giving an optional paper to grade themselves in a particular span of time, say 5 to 10 years.

When the examination is planned with a very bonafide intent and that too, to keep up the dignity of the profession, it should be whole-heartedly welcomed.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 01:53
@ 17: bona fides??? Of the Bar Council??? Please get a reality check done. This is Gopal Subramaniam's publicity stunt. He wants to do something radical that is putatively good for the fraternity and this is what he has managed. Series of interviews and shifting stands, Rainmaker being officially involved and what not... Can he not go on an all India flash tour of law colleges and cancel the recognition of tonnes of them that are an apology to legal education? Has he done anything to let foreign universities come in? Has he even bothered to inform himself if foreign law firms are good or bad? Has he done something to provide for a basic minimum pay for freshers working under individual practitioners and more importantly, senior counsels?

His hands are full, and yet he chooses to wash things off to fondle an ill-fated idea - titularly a bar exam! We don't need this, reform has to be organic and this is NOT where you start.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 08:03
the SC will overrule this Bar exams nonsense cause it can only happen with an statutory amendment to the Advocates act. not by a Back Door law.

while on the other hand Mr.gopal and the BCI have paid money to rainmaker for the exams which were never possible in the first place.

As per his own Report submitted to the SC as per its order in the Bonnie case for the formation of the 3 member expert committee..
In the conclusion & recommendation part of the report it is clearly submitted that " exams can only happen with a statutory amendment as per the V sudheer case."

the real question i feel is how much money is being displaced?
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 21:02
I think this has two sides of it.Have yous seen the lawyers at some of the courts.?..incompetent is not the word.I as a law student knew more than them. The moment you enter court they flock you saying "lawyer chahiye ? lawyer chahiye ? Rs100...Rs 200"...what rubbish..!!
i have heard adn seen students who write our final exams sit for half n hour write just 3 pages take an extra booklet for name sake..leave the exam hall..and whn the results are out ? voila !! 45 !!!
surprising...? NO....They do what is reffered to as "PAY AND PASS"..yes its happening...rampant in bangalore university.
Imagine the lawyers who use this system what kind of quality lawyers are generated out of this.
This exam should be an exam conducted like CLAT or AIEEE where everything is so secure.Hope someone is listening.
As to whn the exam should be held...6 months after graduating is too long.@ months is fine.The process should be fast.
AND remember this only applies to the current batch of students who are in the 5th year now (2010),so those who have already qualified need not write.
THis is my opinion ..nothing personal. cheers
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 21:22
when a medical graduate gets degree , does sits 4 exam , in archtecture no ,in dental, in CA/CS ICWA PRACTICE NO EXAM , IT IS A SHAM A TRICKERY USED nls grads talented n industry courts are their to do justice , only nls grads or senior lawyers , or face valuers will get justice is a strange notion , courts including supreme court has primary duty to deliver justice , bar council cannot act as screener as a recrutment board , it is only a facilitator , who is this champion who introduce new system
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 21:40
punish n crack private universities who dont follow standards people who take bribes n open shops 4 degrees it is highly idiotic to force law grads to do exams straqnge today all law graduates are equall they can practice , vote in BCI tommorrow all law grads wont be equall , life is not fair to all but 4 sons of senior advs things r rosy n , why things r pro families n pro specific class or segment, some body is accumulating dowry for his daughter in the process , earlier a minister said that IIT is open for strong boys who secure 80%, he says he is right , A french queen once said why people dont eat cakes n pastries if they dont have bread to eat , this is strange governance wat is painful is such people always occupy big postions , tommorow they will say only good looking n bright are only allowed to eat n practice , juniores of senior champions are be only allowed to practice
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-20 22:00
#18 is right. it is a mere publicity stunt. BCI and the state bar councils are rotten [...] reactionaries. they have opposed foreign law firms, foreign univs and even criticised the delhi high court for the very light punishment it gave to rk anand!! (the guy should be in jail). however, GS wants to show that he is a reformer, so comes up with the bar exam. sorry GS, but you're no reformer and none of the senior lawyers are.

just look at our so-called luminaries: fali nariman, palkhivala, jaitley and manu singhvi took up UCC/dow's brief (sorabjee thankfully refused to do so). as for ram jethmalani, he claimed that a tall sikh man shot jessica lall!! why do we worship these people??
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 04:43
I think the criticism here can be summarized as follows:
#1) Hyper-technical: Advocates Act does not allow BCI to install a system of bar exams.
#2) Unrealistic: That the BCI should monitor 1000s of colleges across the country on a weekly / monthly / annual basis.
#3) Personal integrity: That the BCI is corrupt / that this is a publicity stunt.
#4) Whining: That law students have to take one more exam.

The amusing thing is not one of these actually challenge the efficacy of a bar exam at the core. The point of a bar exam (properly conducted and effectively implemented) is that it makes every one of the 1000s of tiny little law colleges across India to either maintain a certain level of standards or shut shop.

A single day spent in any of the district courts in our country shows how tremendously low the quality of lawyers is in our country. (Not to say that there aren't horrible lawyers in High courts and the Supreme court).

Added to that adhering to certain standards ensures not only that the profession grows healthily by weeding out incompetent and unscrupulous characters, but also ensures that the general public is assured that by engaging a lawyer they are at least getting someone of some basic competence.

I have not seen anyone here argue how that is a bad thing.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 06:08
@ 24: You are much like GS: you don't seem to realise it doesn't make sense to have legal education somehow standardized at the stage of a bar exam. What do you about the 3/5 years of legal education? Deal with all of those imperfections at a one-shot bar exam? If your logic is sound, we could as well do without any standards for imparting legal education, and much less, with those institutions themselves. Gee, you have a Bar exam!!!

You equally don't seem to realise that the Bar exam on the lines proposed will be dead on arrival - stalled as it almost already is, by stay orders and pending proceedings. Which Bar on earth outsources the exam lock, stock and barrel to a nobody called Rainmaker? Which Bar exam was announced and implemented in a matter of a few months? People will of course whine about it.

On inspections of 1000s of colleges, please understand what the reality is. Most colleges that need to be on the watch, which make up in fact most of the colleges we have, have people to tip them off in advance on inspection team arrivals. I personally know of institutions that have library catalogues that don't have corresponding books on the shelves, and those that rent air conditioners to be fit up at the time of inspection.

Hyper-technicality as to the legality of a bar exam: People are not harping on it in vain. The point is, should you amend the Act, as it rightly takes for a bar exam to be introduced, you will have a larger debate on this. Law imparting institutions and advocates associations can lobby. You will consider the need to bring about a distinction between litigators and transactional lawyers. From the way it looks, GS is on his own sweet course charting out what he thinks the Bar exam should be like and people are not going to take it lying down.

So if you are one of the NLUites who graduated ages ago and has ever since been in a magic circle firm, I would invite you to please come back and take a look at things here.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 10:25
@#25: I am neither a NLU graduate not in a "magic circle firm." I am in 100% litigation and did a 3 year LLB from DU. I practice in godforsaken places like district courts and consumer forums etc. So please don't pretend as if you have a monopoly on understanding reality. Everyday in these courts I see some horrendous lawyers, many of whom come from tiny little colleges dotted across the country who have been given a free license to practice law merely because they have a degree in hand. The travesty of it is that to an average person with a limited budget on the street (and who may not be so worldly wise with the legal world) there is no decent way of telling a decent lawyer from an outright fraud. The bar exam to a certain extent would at least keep some of the riff-raff out. Moreover, it will dissuade the 100s of people who do law jsut for the heck of it, because they can't figure out anything else better to do.

I think you misunderstand the purpose of a bar exam. It's not to "deal with imperfections at a one-shot bar exam" as you put it - it's to ensure that only people of a certain level of quality enter the profession. And it sure is hell a lot more practicable to manage the problem at a centralized level, then to try to manage 1000s of law schools and 1000s of corrupt people behind them (as you yourself rightly pointed out).

My point on hyper-technicality was not that such a stance is incorrect or not - it's that no one here has argued as to why a bar exam would be a bad thing. I suspect that if tomorrow the parliament amends the act, will these people be satisfied? I think not - because the passion with which they are arguing clearly belies that there are reasons they hate this move. I am simply asking whether there is any good reason or is it just that resentment and hesitation to change that is so deep-rooted in the psyche of our country, and especially the bar.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 kianganz 2010-06-21 13:49
It depends whether when the word 'corrupt' is used together with a well-argued comment and also whether it is vague enough not to be potentially defamatory of any individual.

Calling any individual or small group of individuals is corrupt is still not ok.

Best regards,
Kian
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 21:30
Why do we need a bar exam. we are law graduates and swtudied law fr 5 yrs or 3 yrs. Fully damn qualified. What do they want. If we are some ordinary graduates then its ok to conduct exams but for law graduates.Whats wrong with your minds? Or if u still want to do it then make it compulsory for every1. N u'll c that there are many pre enrolled lawyers who are surely not able to clear the test. Comeon goon do it but plz think bfore taking such a step.THE QUES. IS HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO STUDY THE SAME OLD THINGS TO PROVE THAT WE ARE NOT DUMB?
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 21:36
#26 We understand the point here, that it is to enrol only competent students but what about those already enrolled lawyers who don't know a single word. A 1st year student knows better than them. Make it compulsiory for all why for those who are passing out this year.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-21 22:11
@26: you have not asked one important question: why did the BCI give recognition to sub-standard colleges? look at what happened when the MCI did this: the CBI investigated the matter, their chairman got arrested for taking bribes from crap colleges, and the MCI got disbanded!! however, because of the strong lawyers lobby one cannot dream of a similar CBI probe against the BCI
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 02:20
@#30: So your argument is that we should not have a bar exam because sub-standard colleges / BCI is corrupt? That's like saying the RTI Act should not have been passed because people in the parliament as well as people in the country are corrupt.

How is the integrity of the BCI / colleges pertinent to your argument that there should not be a bar exam? By your own argument there exist sub-standard colleges (which therefore churn out thousands of sub-standard advocates). So how is having a centralized process to ensure high standards (thereby weeding out sub-standard candidates) a bad thing??
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 03:24
@ 31: A Bar exam can at the most complement good legal education and cannot substitute it.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 03:30
I really wonder how many of you would be as vociferous once you've completed your LLM from one of the US Ivy League institutions and are vying to get into Big Law firms in NY etc. You will need to clear the NY Bar etc. before your Wachtell, Skadden, Cravath or DPW dreams come true!!!
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 04:55
@ 33: Dude, we are fighting corruption and incompetence at the level of law schools and the Bar Council itself and here you are with thoughts on the NY Bar exam, Ivy League and Wachtell Lipton. We are galaxies away from being even compared to the US on legal education.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 05:13
all you bar council fans/chamchas...your beloved organisation is the reason why the indian legal profession is in such a mess. the BCI is to be blamed for giving recognition to third-class colleges, blocking foreign firms, opposing anti-corruption reforms, supporting lawyers strikes, resisting appointment of academics like madhav menon and upendra baxi as judges etc. these guys have zero transparency. they have no moral right to decide what is right for the profession. entrusting BCI with the bar exam is like appointing shivraj patil to the home ministry or pappu yadav to the election commission...we cannot trust a body like the BCI to select "quality" lawyers.

@31:
yes, the BCI should not conduct the bar exams. there is a high chance of corruption and bribery. everyone knows the disgusting things that happen during bar council elections. how can you be so sure the exams will be conducted in a clean and transparent manner?
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 05:20
Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth... nth #35 on the Bar Council. It's a lesson in how not to regulate!
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-22 21:30
As rightly pointed out by Proessor Basheer, that the SC in V Sudheer has expressely pointed out,any condition imposed on the law graduate which stop them from practice is unconstitutional.
First of all the BCI has no such power to impose any condition which prohibit Law Graduates from practice after enrollment. It is against Art.19(1)(g).
Secondly, if at all BCI wants to conduct such exam then those who clear that exam should get stipend or salary per month from BCI like student gets after clearing PSC, UPSC stc.
Thridly, if at all they want to conduct exam i dont understant why they have come with the notification in the month of JUNE BCI could have come with the notification in the montn of Januray so that the exam could have been conducted in the month of JULY

I not understand why they want Law Graduates, who wants to pursue Litigation to remain UNEMPLOYED FOR SIX MONTHS......i think it is ......
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-06-28 11:12
The BCI has not empower to pass the such type of order which contrary and against of Constitution of India. Whereas, in such type of provisions are not available in other professional practice i.e. medical, engendering and C.A./ICWA/CS etc. Hence, this type of act of BCI has contrary of Art.14 and other Constitutional rights of citizen.

Dt.27.06.2010 KRISHNA KUMAR RAI
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-09-11 03:59
Its unfortunate the way bci decided abt the exam. in other words the act of bci degraded the law degree awarded by the university. the act of bci is an attempt
to commercilized the legal profession.pvt institutions such as rainmaker should
not allowed to regulate nobel profession.
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Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-09-23 18:31
How the seniors are practising in the courts? Are they write this sort of foolish exams? No.Then why you all trying seriously to make the exam as mandatory? What is the motive behind this? Who can give the power to conduct the exam? If BCI is not abiding to Advocates Act, then how BCI can have the authority to be in the country? BCI is not respecting the exams which are conducting by the law universities which means BCI holds as it as the sovereign power by not respecting the universities.There are so many ways to improve the quality of an Advocate.Think genuinely over it.BCI had already planned to mortgage the legal studies into the hands of multinational and private organisations that shows by the way it acts.So dear advocates, students,and senior counsels it's the time for struggle to revitalise the BCI.Come on to the Battle.
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