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BCI: 'Stern action' against lawyers already practising without bar exam; Non-complying law schools could be derecognised


Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Gopal Subramanium said that the BCI would crack down on any recently enrolled lawyers who were practising law without having passed the bar exam and that law colleges whose graduating law students did not take the bar exam could be derecognised.

In a press release Subramanium said: "Advocates who do not meet the necessary requirements to practice law in India would be prohibited from doing so and the BCI will co-ordinate with every SBC to identify such issues and take stern action against any lawyers who are flouting the norms for practice of law in India.

"This action will also extend to cover recently enrolled lawyers who are not complying with the requirement of clearing the AIBE before practising law in India."

The statement added that law colleges or universities "should note that all registrations for the AIBE are being tracked and any law college that is registered with the BCI and whose graduating students do not undertake the AIBE will be liable to be derecognised".

BCI bar exam convenor Gopal Sankaranarayanan said that the BCI would not seek to encroach on the disciplinary jurisdiction of the state bar councils but would "definitely" derecognise colleges where the "entire graduating batch" did not take the bar exam. This was within the BCI's existing powers, said Sankaranarayanan. [update shortly after first publication when BCI comment received]

"The fact is that as far as we are concrnedwe are not planning to crack down on students, we are cracking down on the colleges and we are going to take steps to ensure that these students are informed," he added.

The BCI also explained that the BCI was "currently preparing a plan to create a national database of all practising lawyers, law schools, law students and other stakeholders to put in place efficient processes to ensure that reforms carry long-term perspective".

The database would be able "to track every single law college/law student/advocate in India, verify required data and highlight any inconsistencies or issues". This would act as a common platform to provide tools and resources to lawyers and law students, as well as track enrolment of advocates and compliance with the all-India bar exam, said the statement.


One 2010 graduate told Legally India that the BCI's statement ability to enforce the threat was limited, because disciplinary proceedings under the Advocate's Act had to start at the state bar council level and most state bar councils were opposed to the exam.

The newly formed Maharashtra & Goa state bar council last week announced that it too was opposing the bar exam.

The graduate, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: "I was in touch with people from all state bar councils and they are telling the young lawyers to go ahead and practice. Most of these kids are ignorant of the fact [of the bar exam] so they just walk into these courts every single day, walking around and practising."

Legally India reported last week that one 2010 Nalsar Hyderabad pass-out who was also challenging the bar exam in court said that he was already practising law and it would be unfair for the bar exam to stop them. He was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.


In its press release, the BCI stated that it had so-far answered over 725 bar exam related queries via email, while also operating a telephone helpline in English and Hindi.

The BCI also clarified the definition of academic year for the purpose of falling within the bar exam net: "Academic Year shall mean the period of the year during which students attend a law school, commencing with the first classes or lectures for a particular year of the 3-year or 5-year Ll.B. programme (as applicable), and culminating with the last of such classes or lectures and applicable year or term end examinations.

"Law students graduating in the Academic Year 2009-2010, therefore, would mean those students who have completed their final year of study (third year in the case of 3-year Ll.B. programmes, and fifth year in the case of 5-year Ll.B. programmes) in the calendar year 2010, and, being eligible to appear for their final year examinations, have successfully passed such examinations."

Click here to read the full BCI press release.

For queries on the bar exam please call the helplines on 011 4922 5022 (English) or 011 4922 5023 (Hindi) or email .

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