On Tuesday, the Supreme Court was informed by the Bar Council of India that the syllabus for the upcoming All India Bar Examination would be published within 15 days and the examination would be held within a period of three months thereafter.
A Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S. Ravindra Bhat and M.M. Sundresh was hearing the Bar Council of India's challenge to the judgment of the Gujarat High Court, which allowed persons with other employment, whether full time or part-time, to enroll as Advocates without resigning from their jobs. In the said proceedings, the Court has been passing orders from time to time to enhance quality of legal education in India; to address the shortcomings of the Bar Examination; to explore the idea of chamber placement of young lawyers.
In this regard, the Bar Council has been directed to file affidavits to keep the Court abreast of the steps taken to fulfill its vision. As per the latest affidavit, the Bar Council had passed a resolution granting a 6-months window to law graduates to quit their jobs after declaration of results of the All India Bar Examination for enrollment as an Advocate.
Every State Bar Council would have three registers for AIBE -
- Register A shall contain names of candidates who pass AIBE and are issued the Certificate of Practice and continue to be in the legal profession itself.
- Register B will contain names of candidates who are in service or job somewhere and have been allowed to appear in AIBE with an undertaking to give-up their jobs within a period of 6 months from their AIBE result.
Significantly, the seniority of such candidates shall be counted from the date of giving up their employment and they shall be issued Certificate of Practice (COP) only after they furnish the undertaking that they have left the employment.
- Register C shall include the names of persons who get themselves enrolled with some State Bar Council, clear the AIBE and get their license suspended in order to take up some job/employment. It is also pertinent to note that law graduates who remain in employment for more than 5 years from 'the date of publication of his/her result of AIBE', having no connection/relationship with legal or judicial matters, and seek to re-join the legal profession, will be required to clear AIBE again.
With respect to Register A, Amicus Curiae, Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan sought a clarification. According to him the Register A is supposed to contain the names of candidates who passed the law examination and are enrolled in 'Register A' to be able to take the AIBE, whereafter on clearance of the AIBE their names will be entered.
Accordingly, the Bench clarified the position for the benefit of the parties. Persons who are in employment and are desirous of taking the examination, will in advance disclose to the Bar Council about their employment. They would be permitted to take the examination. Upon being successful they would furnish an undertaking that within six months they would take a call regarding joining the legal profession. If they decide to continue with their present employment they would have to take the AIBE afresh when they are desirous of joining the legal profession again. In case they choose to join the legal profession within the said 6 months, they have to furnish proof of their resignation.
At the suggestion of the Amicus, the Bench made a modification to 'Register C'. Instead of "5 years from the date of publication of the result of AIBE" it should read as "5 years after suspension of license".
With respect to Register C, the Bench also asked BCI to consider what would constitute 'connection/relationship with legal or judicial matters'; for which one does not have to retake AIBE. The BCI, in its affidavit, had suggested that if an advocate gives up their license to serve as a Public Prosecutor of A.P.P. or some judicial service or other services like that of law officers in some corporate or Government offices they do not have to retake the bar examination.
The BCI, in its affidavit, had stated that it had requested Mr. Vishwanathan to be a part of the Legal Education Committee of Bar Council of India or the Monitoring Committee for AIBE. The Amicus apprised the Bench that he had refused BCI's proposal as is, but reckoned he could be a part of the Monitoring Committee of AIBE as a special invitee. The Bench noted there would be no conflict of interest if Mr. Vishwanathan joined the said committee as a special invitee.
[Case Title: Bar Council of India v. Twinkle Rahul Rangaonkar And Ors. Civil Appeal No. 816-817 of 2022]