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18 lawyers with foreign degrees pay BCI $32,000, wait 14 weeks for exam results

The BCI had hiked the rates for the relatively unpopular exam by 450% to $2,000 per candidate in 2014

Wonder what the young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who had done his law degree at UCL in London, would have said about all this...
Wonder what the young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who had done his law degree at UCL in London, would have said about all this...

The Bar Council of India (BCI) took almost four months before passing 15 Indians holding foreign law degrees, who took the BCI’s qualifying exam that is a prerequisite to transfer their qualification to India, after having charged the candidates at least $32,000 (around Rs 22 lakhs) to sit the exam.

The regulator today published on its website the results of the “11th Qualifying Examination for Indian National holding foreign Law Degree”, which was held from 8 – 13 August 2016. Out of the 18 candidates whose results were published, 15 passed the exam, one failed it and two were absent on the exam dates.

The 15 qualifying candidates can now enrol in various state bar councils in India, but to be able to practice before Indian courts they would still have to appear in the All India Bar Exam (AIBE).

The BCI had in 2014 controversially hiked the fee for taking this exam for the first time to $2,000 (1.37 lakh), while it is $73 for repeat candidates. Four out of the 18 candidates in today’s list were repeaters.

Until the eighth edition, the fee for first time takers was only $365. The fee for repeaters has remained constant at $73.

Complaining about the delay, one of this year’s candidates told us: “They seem to be a body with no accountability, and don’t even realise that people’s livelihood and careers could actually depend on their whims.”

The candidate said that the BCI, after having charged them the high fees, the “least they could do is put some of that money to having the papers corrected in a timely manner”. "I’m so disillusioned and discouraged, and this experience has made me question if I even want to live or practice in India at all,” added the candidate.

The syllabus followed for the last several editions of the exam consists of six papers on constitutional law, contracts and negotiable instruments, company law, civil and criminal procedure and limitation, and professional rules and ethics.

BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra did not respond to a request for comment.

Track record

The BCI has been holding this qualifier exam since 2008.

We first reported on the exam when it was in its fourth edition, in 2012.

Since then it has taken the BCI almost eight weeks on an average to release this qualifier’s results, according to previous results published on its website.

The BCI moved the fastest during the seventh and eighth qualifying exam in 2014, with a turnaround in producing the results of a fortnight:

  • 4th edition held from 27 August – 1 September 2012 for 2 candidates: result arrived within 7 weeks, around 25 October 2012;
  • 9 months after the previous exam, 5th edition held from 17 – 22 June 2013 for 7 candidates: result came out after 21 weeks on 26 November 2013;
  • 9 months after the previous exam, 6th edition held from 24 -29 March 2014 for 18 candidates: Result after 3 weeks on 24 April 2014;
  • 2 months after the previous exam, 7th edition held from 16 – 21 June 2014: result after 2 weeks on 6 July 2014;
  • after 5 months, 8th edition held from 17 – 22 November 2014 for 10 candidates: result after 2 weeks on 9 December 2014;
  • after more than 8 months, 9th edition held from 3 – 8 August 2015 for 11 candidates: result possibly up to 10 weeks later on 26 October 2015;
  • after 3 months, 10th edition held from 14 – 19 December 2015 for 10 candidates: result possibly up to 9 weeks later on 29 February 2016;
  • after 8 months, 11th edition held from 8 – 13 August 2016 for 18 candidates: result 14 weeks later on 25 November 2016.

The ninth and 10th edition’s results are undated, but archive.org indicates that they were uploaded no later than 10 weeks for the ninth edition and 9 weeks for the 10th edition, although for previous results archive.org data was off by up to around four weeks.

It has taken around six months, on average, for the BCI to schedule each new edition of the exam, according to the trend set since its fourth edition. The 11th edition was held more than 7 months since the 10th edition.

Of the few candidates appearing for the exam, some are repeaters, and one or two candidates in each edition have been absent during the exam.

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