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Bar exam challenger: Not enough study papers rec’d as Bombay case postponed to 23 Feb

Exclusive: Contradicting earlier Bar Council of India (BCI) claims, the lawyer of one group of petitioners challenging the all India bar exam said that a large number of students had not yet received their study materials, following an adjournment of today’s Bombay High Court hearing to 23 February.

The writ petition filed against the all India bar examination by three Government Law College (GLC) Mumbai law graduates was posted for hearing in the Bombay High Court today (14 February) after having been taken up for the first time in October last year.

Khaitan Jayakar Sud and Vohra (KJSV) Mumbai-based partner Mohan Jayakar, who is representing the graduate petitioners Kavyal Shah, Karan Adhik and Utkarsh Muzumdar, urged the court to expedite proceedings.

Jayakar told Legally India: “The course material, passes, none of those have been made available. I don’t know how they’re going to permit students to appear for the exam, what are the criteria nobody knows.

“There’s no clarity and the BCI is basically trampling upon the jurisdiction of state bar councils. The only thing which probably the court is considering is that matter is pending before the Supreme Court but we pointed out to the court that merely matters pending in the Supreme Court is irrelevant.”

The retrospective effect on those who fail to clear the exam was worrying, he said, as such graduates could be held in contempt of court.

The second issue was what would happen to graduates who failed an exam allowing retakes (ATKT), added Jayakar.

Earlier this month the BCI announced that out of 22,000 graduates who applied for the bar exam only 38 prospective examinees’ study materials could not be delivered and 377 applications were invalid for other reasons such as faulty payment instructions.

Jayakar claimed that the number of students who had not received study materials was much larger than 38. “We’re going to file an affidavit and in fact there’s a whole bunch of students coming forward to say that we haven’t got it [study material].”

The BCI would have to come forward and take a stand, said Jayakar, after the exam was postponed on two occasions and this time there was no certainty it would get postponed again.

The court today directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to enter its appearance as the regulatory body has already been served notice.

Additional Solicitor General Khambatta appeared for the Union of India, which is one of the respondents in this petition.

The matter was listed before the chief’s bench as item number 13 today.

BCI chairman Gopal Subramanium was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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