Bar Council of India apprises Supreme Court of reforms in enrolment of law graduates
The top court had frowned upon earlier regulations that required people appearing for the exams to first resign from their jobs
The Bar Council of India (BCI) has initiated a slew of reforms in the enrolment process of law graduates. The general council of BCI, after taking the decision, conveyed it to the Supreme Court through an affidavit.
It said that law graduates employed in other professions need not resign from their respective jobs to get enrolled as lawyers. Adding that after clearing the enrolment examination, they would be provided a six-month window to quit their jobs.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by BCI against a November 2020 decision of the Gujarat High Court that allowed a single mother to take the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) while continuing her job.
The woman, Twinkle Mangaonkar, then filed an appeal before the top court. Employed in a non-legal profession, she was asked by BCI to resign in order to sit for the AIBE.
She challenged the requirement before the court, claiming that after the death of her husband, she had to take care of her father and son. It would cause severe hardship to resign as she would be left with no means for livelihood.
The earlier BCI rules stated that any person who wished to take the AIBE was required to first resign from the job and then fill out the enrolment form.
The top court had frowned upon such regulations framed by the BCI and suggested that a person giving the examination should be allowed to resign within a fixed time period upon clearing the exams.
In its latest affidavit filed through advocate Durga Dutt, the BCI said, "The council after thorough deliberation and consideration of issues has accepted the suggestions made by the court and has resolved that every State Bar Council (SBC) shall have three registers A, B and C.
"Register B will contain the names of candidates who are already employed somewhere and will be allowed to take the AIBE after giving an undertaking that they will give up their profession within six months of clearing the examination. The Certificate of Practice, required for any legal practitioner, will be issued only after such persons have left the employment."
Meanwhile, the other two categories in Register A and C did not concern the court, as the first category contained names of persons who are not employed elsewhere; the third category will comprise persons who have been enrolled, but will later get their license suspended to take up other jobs or professions.
In the third category, persons who remained in some other employment for a period of five years or more since the announcement of the AIBE results will have to take the enrolment test again, as and when they decide to re-join the legal profession.
The affidavit further said that the rule, however, would not apply to persons who relinquish practice, but take up jobs otherwise linked to the legal profession. These include as a public prosecutor, assistant public prosecutor, judicial service, or as law officers in corporate or government offices.
The suggestion to provide separate categorization of persons in employment who take AIBE was suggested to the court by amicus curiae and senior advocate KV Vishwanathan. He suggested that the bar on taking up any other profession should apply only at the time of the legal practice, and not taking the test.
The bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, and Justice MM Sundaresh posted the matter for further consideration on September 27. It would, meanwhile, examine other aspects of the AIBE examination and conduct surprise inspections of law colleges to ensure the maintenance of education standards.
The BCI, in its affidavit, said that a committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge would select an agency to conduct the examinations. It would also examine the best way to test the skill and knowledge of law graduates, based on their analytical thinking process rather than rote learning. ability.
The next cycle of AIBE will be held in September-October.
The apex court earlier noted in its April order that nearly 500 institutions providing legal education were below the standard.
Led by its chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, the BCI team informed the court that the surprise inspection team would comprise a former high court judge, law professors, and a member of SBC or any senior advocate having minimum of 25 years of practice.