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Success in bar exam grade disclosure writ as BCI mulls question paper release

Exclusive: Right to Information (RTI) activist and Delhi University 2010 graduate Anoop Prakash Awasthi has partially won his petition seeking the Bar Council of India (BCI) to disclose the marks of bar examinees.

As reported on 1 March, Awasthi had filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court seeking the publication of a statement of bar examinees’ marks in the interest of transparency, publication of the bar exam questions within one week of the exam and the scrapping of prizes for the best students.

BCI chairman Gopal Subramanium confirmed to Legally India on Monday (7 March) that a mark breakdown would be disclosed, which has today been officially confirmed and the Delhi High Court disposed of the petition directing the BCI to comply with some of the prayers, according to Awasthi.

In today’s court hearing in the case the BCI submitted a letter signed by its officiating secretary J.R. Sharma (download here) stating: “Although the Bar Council of India had initially decided to indicate whether candidates had failed or passed, in the interests of transparency, it has been decided that the statement of marks will be published.”

However, the letter said that in respect of Awasthi’s second prayer, the BCI would “take a decision in due course” on whether the exam questions would be published within a week of the All India Bar Exam (AIBE) that took place on 6 March.

In respect of his third prayer, the BCI wrote that “the prizes will be awarded to the best students after the results of the examinees from the Chennai centres are announced”. The exam was postponed in Chennai due to unrest.

“I think I got my order. That much i should say and I’m happy with the outcome,” commented Awasthi, who is an RTI fellow at the Centre for Civil Society and a member of PRABODH and the Liberal Youth Forum (LYF-India). “The petition in the Delhi High Court – and contrary to the stand taken by them in the beginning that they won’t disclose the marks - now they are accepting the proposition that there must be some kind of minimum transparency.”

“It is not a welcome step sui moto,” he added. “It is something that has come from the pressure of the judiciary.”

Nevertheless, he maintained that he did not believe in the legality of the exam. “The entire system is illegal but because it is a sub judice matter the honourable Supreme Court will pronounce it in due course.”

“But because it has not been stayed by any court of competent jurisdiction we were obliged to give [the AIBE] because we live under that pater familias of the Bar Council of India.”

“My point is, if there is something, it should be transparent and I think this petition has ensured minimum transparency.”

Awasthi, who also sat the AIBE on 6 March, said that he had filed more than 500 RTIs in his name to date and challenged a number of RTI provisions in court.

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