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Breaking: BCI members postpone bar exam to 2011, subject to Subramanium sign-off; Rainmaker off next exam (UPDATE-1)

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examination-hall_by_comedy-nose
Exclusive: Bar Council of India (BCI) members passed a resolution in the absence of chairman Gopal Subramanium today to postpone the bar exam by three months until 6th March 2011, as the BCI is also understood to have discussed future involvement by Rainmaker.

Three independent but authoritative sources close to the BCI told Legally India on condition of anonymity that a quorum of BCI members convened today (Sunday, 14 November) for a meeting and passed a resolution that the proposed All India Bar Exam would not take place on 5 December 2010 but would be postponed to next year.

BCI chairman Subramanium, who is also solicitor general, was not present at the meeting. Legally India was unable to authoritatively confirm the reason for his absence at the time of going to press and Subramanium did not return Legally India's requests for comment by phone and email.

At 8pm today BCI spokesperson Gopal Sankaranarayanan could not confirm that the BCI members had passed a resolution postponing the bar exam, but said that before the decision could be final from an "administrative point of view" Subramanium would have to sign it.

It is understood that the BCI members' main reason for postponing the exam was because a large number of students had not yet received written bar exam materials and because members proposed greater involvement of state bar councils.

It was proposed that from next year the BCI would select up to six state bar councils, whose chairmen would then jointly set the paper.

It is understood that BCI members also decided that legal industry services provider Rainmaker would continue running this first exam but the company would not be selected to run the second exam. Rainmaker was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Legally India could not confirm whether any special allowances were considered be made for 2010 graduates who may be unable to practice until the exam now takes place in 2011.

A number of other issues, such as closures of law schools were also discussed by the BCI members at the meeting.

The deadline to apply to the bar exam is tomorrow (Monday, 15 November). Last week Legally India reported that the legal avenues in the Supreme Court transfer petition of bar exam challenge cases were almost exhausted, as a number of petitioners were inactive.

UPDATE 15 November 2010, 11:10am: BCI member and Delhi Bar Council member Rajinder Singh Rana confirmed to Legally India that the bar exam was postponed to 6 March. He added that 2010 graduates would not be permitted to practice until they passed the exam. However, another source said he was told by a state bar council BCI member that 2010 would be permitted to practice before passing the exam and that a press conference would be held at 16:00 tomorrow (12 November).

Gopal Subramanium confirmed to Legally India that he was absent from the meeting due to ill-health but was currently getting up to speed on the latest developments.

UPDATE 15 November, 13:19: The Times of India has also confirmed that the bar exam will be postponed.

UPDATE 16 November: It now appears that the state bar councils want to run their own bar exams in future. Read Legally India's exclusive analysis of the history, background and future of the bar exam. Also, a second mainstream newspaper has now confirmed the development (DNA), although no formal statement from the BCI has been forthcoming.

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