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SC constitution bench will hear AIBE legality challenges in 4 weeks

Bar exam: Under constitution bench scanner
Bar exam: Under constitution bench scanner

The All India Bar Exam (AIBE) challenges will be heard by a Supreme Court constitution bench next month.

Chief justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur and justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit today framed three issues to be examined by the constitutional bench in the case of Bar Council of India versus Bonnie FOI Law College, after having received counsels’ submissions on the issues:

1. Whether the judgement in V Sudeer versus Union of India was correct in holding that pre-enrolment qualifications cannot be prescribed (for advocates)?

2. Whether Rules 9 to 11 of the Bar Council of India Rules are ultra vires (in violation of) the Advocates Act 1961

3. Whether the Bar exam is unconstitutional

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, whose assistance the CJI’s court had sought in the case but not recorded in its last order, on 4 March, was officially appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case.

Venugopal assisted the court today in the framing of the issues to be placed before the constitutional bench.

Other than Venugopal, advocate Kartik Seth for petitioner Anuj Agarwal, and BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra were also present at the hearing.

Mishra sought to add a fourth issue before the bench - whether advocates who fail the bar exam will have other rights of practising advocates, such as the right to vote in bar elections.

However this issue was not framed, after Thakur asked him why it was relevant.

On 4 March the CJI’s court had asked various petitioners appearing in the 13-petition challenge to the bar exam to submit their proposals on whether a constitution bench should hear the case and on which questions of law.

Seth, acting for Agarwal, had yesterday submitted to the court, as part of his proposal, that other than being illegal and unconstitutional the Bar exam was also an example of the BCI ‘s incompetence, particularly on the counts of fairness and transparency in conducting the exam:

Note: Apart from questions of law, the competence of BCI to hold a Bar Exam in a fair and transparent manner has been questioned in an article published by a leading legal website “Legally India” raising certain questions of propriety/honesty with regard to the current BCI regime headed by Mr Manan Kumar Mishra. I have attached the same to this list of questions for your kind perusal/attention.

Final hearings in the case will commence in four weeks.

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