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BCI claims 96% attendance but unrest derails Chennai bar exam

The Bar Council of India (BCI) said that 96 per cent of 22,000 law graduates appeared for the “historic” All India Bar Exam (AIBE) yesterday, although “unsavoury elements” in Chennai “destabilised” the exam causing its postponement to the end of the month.

A BCI press release issued yesterday stated that the AIBE was intended to “check for eligibility, rather than expertise” and was a success in most of the 44 test venues across 26 cities.

In the 27th city Chennai, however, the “AIBE had to be postponed after certain unsavoury elements resorted to protests and sporadic violence to destabilize the examination”, said the BCI. “Mr. Gopal Subramanium, Chairman, Bar Council of India and Solicitor General of India, expressed his disapproval in the strongest terms at the conduct of certain lawyers in Chennai who interfered with the examination and caused damage, and intends to take strong action against them.”

The Chennai exam is now scheduled for 27 March.

“Students who gathered at the venues in all the centers, spontaneously started protesting by shouting slogans against the BCI and that the examination is arbitrary” and “a conspiracy by the BCI to prevent socially marginal people from becoming advocates and make the legal profession a privilege of the elite”, reported Law et al. News. “In the melee, a sizeable number of students […] willing to write the examination were unable to write the examination. The protesting students tore off the sheets containing information about the seating arrangements for the examination.”

In the BCI statement Subramanium added: “We are aware that there are various issues with respect to the AIBE that need to be streamlined and we will utilise the learning of the first AIBE to build a robust system for the same moving forward. I would like to congratulate every lawyer who has written the AIBE and wish them all the very best for the way forward.”

The release added that despite “initial opposition to the AIBE (the original date was December 5, 2010 and was postponed due to representations made by the State Bar Councils), lawyers across the country appeared en masse and the attendance for the first AIBE was as high as 96%”.

According to the Times of India 3,600 graduates registered for the exam in Mumbai, followed by Delhi with 2,800 and Bangalore with 1,300. A total of 13,300 signed up for the exam in English, 3,600 in Hindi, 1,500 in Gujarati followed by Kannada.

Legally India reported yesterday that according to test-takers the exam was very easy, although in some examination centres there were hiccups in organisation and some candidates were alleged to have cheated.

Update 12:51: The Hindu reported that attendance in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad was less than 20 per cent, citing no sources for the figure.

Photo by comedynose

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