The 10th All-India Bar Exam (AIBE) took place last Sunday and we are undertaking a short analysis of the paper.
As with the earlier editions, the question paper had multiple sets, with a different question sequence in each set. The questions in each set were the same, but in a different order. So our strategy, recommended earlier by BarHacker in the 20-hour preparation video to first identify questions pertaining to the same subject, was fruitful.
There were 13 case law-based questions and 58 bare Act-based questions. Most of the remaining 29 questions were largely knowledge-based, which required you to have prior knowledge of some concept, other than case law-based knowledge.
Bare Act-based questions
The bare Act-based questions were not always direct and they required you to be familiar with the statutes that were part of the subjects prescribed in the syllabus. For example, look at the following question:
69. A perpetual injunction can only be granted by the decree at the hearing and upon the -
a. Demand of the party
b. Discretion of the court
c. Merit of the suit
4. None of the above
Answer c (Section 39, Specific Relief Act)
To answer the question, you would need to know which Act and tentatively which section deals with specific injunction. You needed to know that this was part of the Specific Relief Act.
Knowledge-based questions and their types
Apart from case law-based questions, several other kinds of questions which required you to have prior knowledge of a subject were there. In some cases, that knowledge was not statute based or concept based.
For example, consider the following question:
The objective of the EU Directive on the mediation is:
a. Reducing backlogs of cases at the courts in the member states
b. Dividing the cases between all the dispute resolution methods
c. Economical reasons in times of crisis, thus ensuring that mediators will have a better a proper income.
d. Ensuring better access to alternative dispute resolution in cross-border commercial conflicts.
Broadly, knowledge-based questions were of various types, apart from case law-based questions - i) conceptual or ii) history based.
Some questions pertaining to constitutional history were also knowledge-based. For example, there was also a question based on a Philippines-based law! Presumably, the rationale behind the idea to introduce knowledge-based questions is to make the exam difficult and unpredictable.
There were very few application-based questions, which can test application of legal skills acquired during law school.
Examples of knowledge-based questions testing your understanding of a concept are:
The right to equality before the law under Article 14 is subject to restrictions of
a. Public order and morality
b. Reasonable classification
c. Reasonable restriction
d. Reasonable situations
58. To make the criminal harmless by supplying him those things which he lacks and to cure him of those drawbacks which made him to commit crime is known as
a. Expiatory or penance theory of punishment
b. Deterrent theory or preventive theory of punishment
c. Reformative or rehabilitative or corrective theory of punishment
d. Retributive theory of punishment
There were some knowledge-based questions pertaining to the constitutional history of India. For example, consider the following questions:
In the Government of India Act 1935, which subjects are included in the concurrent list?
b. Divorce & Arbitration
c. Criminal Law & Procedure
d. All of the above
Minto- Morley reform is associated to which Act?
a. Indian Councils Act 1912
b. Indian Councils Act 1856
c. Indian Councils Act 1908
d. Indian Councils Act 1909
There were some questions which were either not clearly worded, or whose answers were not a clear match to what the question is seeking. For example, consider the following:
'A’ does not fall under the clause of memorandum of association. 'A’ here is:
Answer b (Although the subscribers are deemed to be the first directors of the company, there is no clause in the MOA pertaining to directors. An MOA contains clauses pertaining to all the above)
‘Subscription’ could refer to the subscribers or the subscribed capital. It could have also been a plausible answer as the memorandum does not mention subscribed capital (only the authorised capital is mentioned). However, since the memorandum mentions who are the subscribers of the company, we have not chosen this to be the correct answer.
The parties which cannot be compelled to perform specific performances of contract are provided in which section of Specific Relief Act -
Answer d (Refers to restoration, and not specific performance, on the basis of equity, where a contract is rescinded) (From Bare Act)
This question came from a law in the Philippines! This seems to be a knowledge-based question in administrative law.
62. According to Republic Act No. 6770, these powers are not provided to office of Ombudsman
a. Prosecutory power
b. function to adopt , institute and implement preventive measures
c. Public assistant functions
d. None of the above
Answer - Unclear (most likely option is b)
22. In most EU member countries, which of the following is the most visible form of ADR?
Minor deviations in weightage from syllabus
In terms of number of questions pertaining to each subject, there were some deviations from the weightage in the syllabus, typically plus or minus 1 mark, as per the table below. We have also classified whether the questions were bare act based or knowledge based.
Detailed weightage and distribution of different types of questions
Was it possible to pass?
Over the past years, bare Act-based questions have fallen in number, though they are still well over the 40-mark passing criteria. There has been increased focus on knowledge-based questions. We saw a lot of knowledge-based questions other than those focused on case laws. In a way, the bar exam is probably just beginning to test your conceptual knowledge.
Considering there were 58 bare Act-based questions, if you just carried the bare Acts pertaining to the syllabus and were familiar with how to use them, you would have passed. Those who had taken BarHacker would have found the paper to be relatively easy, with respect to clearing passing criteria.
For your reference, the question paper can be downloaded from this link.