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BCI to SC: We should hold CLAT (because our AIBE is ‘most fair and transparent’)

BCI thinks it'd be great at holding the CLAT because it rocked the AIBE
BCI thinks it'd be great at holding the CLAT because it rocked the AIBE

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has asked the Supreme Court, in an affidavit filed in the challenge to conduct of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) that was filed by Shamnad Basheer and others, that it be allowed to conduct the CLAT in future.

The BCI affidavit (read in full below) by its secretary Srimanto Sen, cited its “experience of conducting a similar examination, i.e. [All India Bar Exam] AIBE successfully in most fair and transparent manner”, and asked the SC:

That the answering respondent proposes Bar Council of India may be permitted to constitute the body of experts through its Legal Education Committee, to hold CLAT wherein the Legal Education Committee council involve some sitting and former Hon’ble Judges, noted educationists of legal education and eminent jurists and such irregularities as complained of by the petitioner herein may be effectively redressed…

[The BCI] has the mechanism in place to conduct even the entrance/admission test for law courses for all institutions imparting legal education in the country through a common admission test.

The BCI also relied on its inherent responsibility under the Advocates Act to “regulate the legal education in the country under Sections 7 and 49 of the Act..From the reading of the aforesaid provisions, it is evident that the Answering respondent has been conferred sole responsibility under the statute for regulating legal education in the country”.

On 12 August, the Supreme Court in the matter fined the BCI Rs 25,000 for having failed to respond to Basheer’s petition, giving the body four weeks to file its response.

Basheer, the founder of diversity initiative Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA), via senior counsel KK Venugopal with advocates Liz Mathew and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, has filed a 848-page public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a permanent body to regulate and hold future CLATs, as opposed to having a new national law school figure out from scratch every year how to conduct a competitive exam for tens-of-thousands of applicants.

The BCI’s AIBE track record: Not so successful, not at all transparent

As previously and repeatedly reported by us, the AIBE was in 2012 awarded to ITES Horizon, a company without any track record, which misrepresented its experience. Nevertheless, ITES won over several other qualified bidders that were cheaper and more qualified.

Every single AIBE conducted by the BCI since 2012 has been subject to delays in holding exams and the publication of results and issuance of practising certificates.

The AIBE has also risen in costs by nearly 100% despite the BCI and ITES reneging on their promise to provide study materials.

The candidate database has also suffered apparent cyber-security breaches.

Finally, the BCI is in violation of its Right to Information (RTI) obligations, and has not published any statistics relating to the AIBE since 2012.

For further details on these points, please read: Was the All India Bar Exam (AIBE) contract awarded honestly? Here are 5 things the SC should ask the BCI chairman to disprove that it wasn’t

Full disclosure: In 2015 the BCI has sent a legal notice to Legally India for our critical reporting on the AIBE (though not taken any further action after our reply), and more recently called Legally India editor Kian Ganz a “small mosquito… attempting to spread Dengue”, threatening in an email that BCI “members will take care of you”.

BCI wants CLAT (PDF)

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