Owing to the ongoing pandemic and lockdown, the Bar Council of India has informed the Delhi High Court that the period between March 24 2020 to March 31 2021 will not be counted for calculating the grace period of 2 years from the date of enrolment for clearing the All India Bar Exam.
The Single Bench of Justice Jayant Nath was further informed that the BCI doesn't think that it would be feasible to organise AIBE through online mode.
BCI submitted that:
'Bar Council of India has also further decided to exempt the period from 24th March, 2020 to 31st March, 2021 owing to the pandemic situation and lockdown from being counted as a necessary time period from the point of view of considering it within the requisite time period of 2 years from the date of enrolment, to clear the AIBE for continuation in practice. Thus it has been resolved that this period shall remain exempted and not be counted while calculating the 2 year period from the date of enrolment for the purposes of the time period for clearing/passing AIBE.'
The submissions were made in a writ petition seeking a direction to be issued to the Bar Council of India to conduct the All India Bar Examination through online mode.
Today, BCI furnished its resolution before the court which states that:
'Furthermore, vide the same resolution the issue of conducting AIBE by online mode has been considered and after through discussion and deliberation after taking the view of all Hon'ble Members, it was considered and deemed fit that it would not be feasible to conduct AIBE by online mode. This request had been rejected on the ground that we cannot lose sight of the fact that India is a vast country. 90-95% i.e. maximum percentage of lawyers in India do not stay in metro cities or in even class 1 cities, maximum Advocates stay in semi urban, semi rural and rural places, and even in remote areas, and furthermore even many urban cities have net connectivity issues.'
The Resolution further submits that internet connectivity is not uniform throughout the country and therefore, it would not be possible or feasible for all advocates to give the exam through online mode.
Filed by Mr Purav Middha, the petition also seeks grace period to be granted to candidates holding provisionally enrolled enrollment certificate starting from March 21, 2020 i.e. from commencement of lockdown till the next date of examination.
The Petitioner has contended that the BCI has conducted no examination for almost 11 months now which violates rights of a candidate under Article 14, 16 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
'Bar Council of India is totally ignorant about the well being of young lawyers holding provisionally enrolled Certificate and also violates their rights under the Constitution', the Petitioner has argued.
The Petitioner has also challenged the policy of the BCI of not extending the benefits of the Welfare Fund to young lawyers. He has sought court's direction to the BCI to give financial aid to needy young lawyers (provisionally enrolled) and get benefit of Welfare Scheme if required during this pandemic situation.
The petition states:
'When the BCI was aware of the situation, it should've conducted the online Open Book Examination instead of the physical examination by getting in touch with the National Informatics Centre.'
The court will next take up this matter on October 22.
Click Here To Download Affidavit