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BCI has very secretly hiked bar exam fees by another 40% to Rs 3,500, now nearly 3 times 2010 cost

The fee-hike was not communicated to candidates until after they had applied

BCI quietly announces another massive AIBE cost increase, tries to bury news on website 1 month after registrations start
BCI quietly announces another massive AIBE cost increase, tries to bury news on website 1 month after registrations start

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has increased the fees of the All India Bar Exam (AIBE), which is obligatory for any law graduate who wants to practice law to pass, from Rs 2,500 per candidate to Rs 3,500 (with scheduled caste and tribe candidates remaining on Rs 2,500).

The higher fees payable to take the bar exam had not been mentioned anywhere on the BCI or the official AIBE website since announcing the 10th AIBE on 4 January (this search, for instance, turns up nothing, even though the previous fee of Rs 2,500 had been mentioned prominently on the AIBE homepage).

The fees payable, according to several candidates, are only shared with candidates in the form of a challan when their preliminary application has been accepted following a long-winded application process.

We have been consistently calling the four official AIBE helpline numbers several times a day since last week but have failed to get someone on the line.

However, it appears that the BCI’s secrecy around the increased fees has caused so much confusion that the BCI yesterday (31 January) found it necessary to circulate a letter to all state bar councils and on its website, stating in the final paragraph of a one-page letter that:

The Bar Council of India is also receiving queries regarding the fee being charged in All India Bar Examination-X. It is reiterated and clarified that for All India Bar Examination-X, a fee of Rs 2500/- is being charged from SC/ST candidates and Rs 3500/- is being charged from other category candidates.

The letter’s first three paragraphs meanwhile, addressing “various queries from different State Bar Councils”, clarified that candidates are allowed unlimited retakes of the AIBE, and that there is no two-year time limit after graduation that one has to appear for the exam for.

Expensive history

This is not the first pay increase in the exam. In 2010, the fees started at Rs 1,300, were eventually hiked to Rs 2,500 plus Rs 60 bank fees by 2012 when new contractor ITES Horizon was selected, and now stand at Rs 3,500 (excluding banking fees - we are not sure whether those are now separate or included).

In the meantime, contractor ITES and the BCI have reneged on their contractual obligation for five years to provide printed study materials to every AIBE candidate (so much so, that the latest FAQs for the 10th bar exam, expressly state that “no study material will be provided").

The various AIBEs have generated dozens of crores of Rupees for the BCI, of which around a third has gone to external contractor ITES.

We have sent the following email to BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and the official BCI email address:

Dear Mr Mishra,

Dear Sirs,

We just noticed that the BCI has increased the AIBE fees to Rs 3,500 from Rs 2,500.

1. What is the reason for this increase? Have costs to hold the exam increased?

2. Why was the increase not notified earlier or mentioned anywhere on the BCI or AIBE page, until the letter dated 31 January?

3. Why is the AIBE telephone helpline not reachable? We have had reports from many candidates that it’s simply impossible to reasonably get through the lines.

4. Who is now conducting the AIBE exam? Mr Mishra, you had previously mentioned that ITES’ contract has expired. Has this now been renewed or is the BCI handling the AIBE by itself?

5. Is everything proceeding according to schedule or are further delays likely?

We assure you that we will publish your responses in full.

After having announced the new exam date on 4 January 2017, only two weeks later the BCI postponed the date by a month to 26 March 2017.

BCI late 31 January notification of fee hike

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