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Time Out / Issue 72

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

Hastened by the impending Diwali court holidays and the 31 October deadline to apply for the bar exam, the petitions against the exam in the Supreme Court momentarily picked up speed this week.

First the registrar gave only a three-day extension for the Bar Council of India (BCI) to serve notices on six petitioners, more than a month after the cases were first proposed to be clubbed in the apex court. However, yesterday’s deadline was missed for administrative reasons and today too the case did not even make listing. The courts will only resume the tortuous process after Diwali on 8 November.

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But apart from being a neat case study of how long it can take to get even time-critical litigation off the ground (let alone resolved), the situation now is far from ideal for seemingly everyone involved.

An early ruling by the court would have avoided the current confusion but so far neither the BCI nor some challengers who have failed to turn up for the hearings have cut an efficient or proactive figure.

And although the exam appears to be almost a fait accompli at this point, only an estimated 12-16,000 applications have been received out of roughly 50 to 60,000 law graduates in 2010, although the BCI expects a flurry of last-minute applications. This potentially hurts the credibility of the first exam, leaving the second exam in the spring of 2011 to mop up the leftovers.

On top of that, if a court were to find the exam unconstitutional after or before it takes place on 5 December, reimbursing the Rs 1,300 fees paid by each of the test takers would prove to be a logistical nightmare. And the potential for further protracted litigation by graduates who may feel aggrieved for having been prevented to practice should not be underestimated either.

On the other hand, if in several years time the bar exam turns out to be a staple and success, all that will remain are some bitter memories of the 2010 batch and some interesting litigation exposure for a few. The only question, which would by then have become academic, is whether it would have been possible to make that omlette without breaking any eggs.

In Mumbai a new HQ of law has been created: the Indiabulls Centre in Lower Parel is officially the place to be for lawyers after DSK Legal became the fourth firm to move into the tower block (and by current indications it won’t be the last).

In a Q3 league table of private equity mandates, smaller firms with strong sector specialism such as Induslaw were in the same ballpark - or above - as some of the bigger national firms.

And finally, a Supreme Court judge cited Wikipedia for a legal definition in his judgment and used language that was not entirely politically correct. Objections ensued.

Legally News Wire

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