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Bar exam stay not heard; Chamber judge may hear listing after Diwali; BCI calls for initiative

An application for stay of the Bar Exam was unsuccessful in the Supreme Court today as the registrar referred the Bar Council of India’s (BCI) failure to serve notices on respondents to a chamber judge, although no substantive hearing will now be possible before the Diwali court vacations end on 8 November.

 Senior counsel Dushyant Dave assistant Anirudh Rajput told Legally India via email: “Chief [Justice of India] has disallowed mentioning. Now we will mention it before Chief reopening and request for early hearing of matter.”

“Chief declined to list this today. Nothing happens today,” he added. “We are left with only option to mention for listing which will happen after reopening.”

Rajput said he had unsuccessfully tried to file an application for stay today but it was not be accepted as the matter was not  mentioned. He added that the interim application would be less important after the bar exam application deadline of 31 October and they would focus on securing a main hearing.

The draft application for stay stated:

“It appears that service is not complete and will take a much longer time since it is difficult to service all the students who are parties to the transfer petitions. The Respondent had declared that the date of examination will be 5.12.2010. The last date for filing of applications was initially 30.09.2010 which has been extended to 31.10.2010. All these details have been specified on the website of Respondent with a url link of www.barcouncilofindia.org. The website also contains the study material which will form the basis of question papers. While making a provision for details on the website, the Respondent has ignored that there is a large number of students in remote areas without access to internet and unaware of the details and changes being done to the schedule by the Respondent, rapidly and arbidly. Many bright students of rural areas, as is the case of Applicants are finding it impossible to obtain and prepare for the examination, especially with the urgency with which the examination and its details are thrusted on students without sufficient intimation.”

Download the draft application for stay here. [Correction: paragraph 7: There is no Punjab and Haryana High Court order staying the bar exam – the draft petition was an early draft].

BCI spokesperson Gopal Sankaranarayanan denied that the delay in service of the transfer petition was the fault of the BCI, which had volunteered to serve notice after the registrar office's failure to do so, but instead that the petitioners should have themselves come forward to file vakalatnamas in the apex court. “There are six petitions which have been filed in the Supreme Court – each one of these has challenged the bar exam in the various high courts but they [the petitioners] know that it has transferred the matter to the SC,” he explained. “If I see in Legally India that my petition has been transferred I would immediately instruct someone in the Supreme Court.”

He said that it should not be difficult for any of the lawyer petitioners to find lawyers to represent them in the Supreme Court. “There are lots of lawyers who would like to appear in this issue. So I don't think engaging Supreme Court lawyers should be a problem.” He added that many of the petitioners from law schools would also have batch mates whose seniors or they themselves would be practising in the Supreme Court and could file appearance on their behalf.

The deadline for registration for the bar exam is this Sunday 31 October. Sankaranarayanan said that 16,000 applications for the bar exam had been received to date and the BCI was expecting at least 5,000 more in the next three days.

On 25 October the registrar had ordered that the case could be sent to a chamber judge if the BCI did not serve notices by 28 October: “If nothing is filed on record, matter may be listed before the Hon'ble Judge in Chambers for non--prosecution at the earliest. A single judge will take it forward. Was decided on 25th – matter was posted for 28th.”

In the Supreme Court matters can be sent to single chamber judges under Chapter VI (page 46) of the Handbook on the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court.

The rules for Chamber hearings are set out on page 47 of the Supreme Court Rules, Rule 30, Section C as no. (28) - Summons for non-prosecution under Order XV.

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