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Bar exam writ 6: Nalsar-ite files, judge recuses due to GS link (Update-2: download petition)

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A 2010 Nalsar Hyderabad graduate yesterday challenged the six-month gap between bar council enrolment and passing of the proposed all-India bar exam, which would give litigating lawyers a "right to practice" only months after they graduate.

The petitioner Fatehpal Singh filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday (29 June) before the court's chief justice Mukund Sharma, although Sharma recused himself from hearing the petition.

Sharma cited prior bar exam-related consultations between him, other judges and the Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam who took the first steps to implement the test by December 2010.

Singh's writ petition has been posted for hearing today by a different bench.

Update 30 June, 13:24: It is understood that justice Adarsh Goel has also now recused himself from hearing the matter.

Singh had already enrolled with the state bar council before a notification was posted on 2 June 2010 on the BCI website.

One of the arguments in the petition is that by virtue of enrollment, the petitioner has a right to appear in any tribunal or court under the Advocates Act 1961 and that delegated legislation cannot take away this statutory right.

Fellow 2010 Nalsar graduate and this year's Rhodes Scholar Aditya Swarup said: "Some of us consciously decided not to sit for recruitment week in Nalsar because we wanted to litigate. After a delayed notification we are now at a disadvantage compared to our classmates who would be getting salaries anyway as we cannot practice until December."

As reported yesterday although unconnected to the Nalsar petition, the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council chairman Partap Singh resigned to protest the "draconian" bar exam.

This writ petition is the sixth legal challenge overall against the bar exam and the second to be filed in Punjab and Haryana to date. Opposition also includes a student initiative to lobby law minister Veerappa Moily.

UPDATE: Download the draft writ petition here.


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