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BCI replies to more LI readers' bar exam FAQs

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has responded to common queries and concerns about the bar exam, explaining that the BCI is discussing options to ameliorate lot of 2010 batch graduates, that legal challenges will cause no shift in timetable, and that the Rs 1,300 test fee is reasonable, answering questions relating to Rainmaker's appointment to assist in the exam.

BCI spokesperson Gopal Sankaranarayanan replied to Legally India (LI) queries by email that were compiled from common reader comments posted on the site.

Legally India (LI): The need for the exam is clear. Part of the reason the timeline for this has been so tight is because the BCI and its chairman Gopal Subramanium are concerned that if it does not happen quickly it would get mired in delays and objections and may never happen. However, final year students appear to be particularly concerned that:

If going into litigation they will technically not be allowed to litigate until January 2011. One graduating student who claims he already has clients who want to file cases for him as soon as he enrols, and now he will not be able to do so himself. Is there a solution you can propose in cases like this, or is it a necessary evil that unfortunately falls on the 2010 batch?

Sankaranarayanan (BCI): This is a point that has been raised by many students and advocates. There is absolutely no intention on the part of the BCI to impose the examination in an unilateral fashion. After all, the revitalising of the profession can only be done by taking everybody along.

There are a couple of options that are being presently discussed, to ameliorate the lot of the present batch, and a decision will be taken in this regard shortly.  

LI: If students are going to law firms, BCI chairman Gopal Subramanium wrote in his comment to students on Legally India: "by the way no firm will revoke its offer. if there is a problem contact me." Can you guarantee that firms will abide by this? After all, it is arguably law firms' prerogative to revoke job offers or to pay less if they feel that the value they derive out of new joiners who can not appear in court or sign legal opinions is less?

BCI: This comment was in the context of the concern of some students that their job offers would be revoked as they do not now have a right to practise law until the exam is cleared. The BCI reiterates the assurance, on the basis of exchanges with the various law firms, that no job offers will be revoked on this basis.   

LI: How will the split between enrolment and practice be enforced in the courts in practice? The Karnataka Bar Council for example has asked about this in the past.

BCI: Thus far, if any advocate were practising in court without being enrolled, the same would be subject to the disciplinary mandate of the respective Bar Council. The same disciplinary authority would apply to those who have not passed the examination as well. There are various other checks and balances which are being worked into the system, regarding which announcements will be made at a future date.

LI: Did you expect legal challenges to the bar exam when you first announced it? Has the fact that at least 10 writ petitions have now been filed changed anything in respect of the bar exam? Could this potentially cause a shift in the timetable from 5 December?

BCI: It is always expected that when the legal profession is sought to be regulated, there will be some sections of discontent which would approach the courts. The number of challenges changes nothing as far as the BCI is concerned.

It must not be forgotten that the genesis of the present measures is in the lead taken by the Supreme Court in the Bonnie Foi case. You can rest assured there will be no shift in the timetable on this count.   

LI: Some readers have expressed concern that Rainmaker could launch bar exam training courses or pitch existing services or courses to bar exam takers.

BCI: Rainmaker has an exclusive arrangement with the Bar Council of India for the purposes of executing the All India Bar Examination.

Rainmaker WILL NOT have any training courses or tutorials or any other products related to the All India Bar Examination. The course material which will be sent to each candidate is the exclusive property of the Bar Council of India.

As a result, Rainmaker is in no position to profit from the association except for the payment by the BCI to it based on the number of candidates taking the examination.

LI: Have steps been taken to ensure confidentiality of information in the database of test takers?

BCI: The database of candidates will be fully protected and only utilised by the BCI for purposes of its internal management. However, all of this will be subject to existing laws on transparency and disclosure.

LI: Is the majority of exam-related work done in-house by the BCI?

BCI: Yes.

LI: Can you disclose the fees that Rainmaker will be paid for its bar exam services? Many seem to believe that Rainmaker has found a goldmine and will take a lion's share of the Rs 1,300 fee from each test taker directly. From what I've heard, I believe this is a misunderstanding of the facts, so it would help to get some clarity.

BCI: I am surprised there are "many" who are concerned about Rainmaker's alleged profits. It is unlikely to be of interest to anybody apart from those who are Rainmaker's competitors or rivals. But in any case, all fees are paid directly to the Bar Council of India, from which Rainmaker will be compensated for their services.

Rainmaker will have no direct receipts from the test takers at all. It may also be pointed out that the exam fee includes the cost of registration, detailed materials, conveyance, conduct of exams and evaluation in a time bound manner.

On this scale, the fees charged for the examination is much less than other national exams similarly conducted.  

LI: Can you disclose the fees that Rainmaker will be paid since this is public procurement and in the interests of transparency?
BCI: I must correct your notion that this is public procurement. The BCI is an autonomous regulatory body, which has entered into an agreement to achieve its objectives. The remuneration to Rainmaker is a fair one, as is only to be expected when entering into a service agreement with a professional outfit.
I see in your questions the anxiety regarding the costing of the exam. Maybe it will better help understand the issue by noting that the leading examinations in the country - JEE, CLAT and CAT cost Rs.1,000, Rs.2,500 and Rs.1,400 respectively, without any of them providing study material.
In contrast, the Professional Competence Test run by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for entry into that profession charges Rs.7,500 for the course.

In this light, the Rs.1,300/- being charged for the Bar Exam along with the study materials is a reasonable amount, in keeping with prevalent industry markers.

For more answers to bar exam related queries read Gopal Subramanium's Q&A published last week on Legally India.

Further answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the bar exam are available on the BCI's website.

If you have any additional bar exam related queries, please email the BCI at or leave comments below and we will summarise relevant and common queries and forward them to the BCI.

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