New Delhi: India’s first ever bar examination, conducted after delays and some resistance, found over two-thirds of the 20,636 candidates eligible to enter the legal profession, announced chairman of the Bar Council of India (BCI), Gopal Subramanium at a press conference in Delhi on Saturday.
The exam was conducted on 6 March by the BCI in partnership with Rainmaker at 41 venues spread over 26 cities and notably in 9 languages, including English. Women candidates fared marginally better than their male counterparts as 72% made it through. Students need to individually obtain 40% to qualify as eligible.
The exam could not be conducted at 3 test centres in Chennai because of protests by ”anti-social elements” according to Subramanium, who added that the rest of the venues had no such trouble. The exam will be held in Chennai on 27 March. The BCI eventually hopes to hold the AIBE at least twice a year, if possible three times, said Subramanium.
The AIBE, which cost each candidate Rs1300 to apply for, saw an impressive attendance of 96% across all venues. This was an open book exam which sought to test ”eligibility rather than expertise” said Subramanium, who added that the intention of the BCI in conducting it was to ”continuously improve the benchmark for admission into the legal profession.”
India churns out roughly 60,000 law graduates annually from over 900 law schools and colleges. Students graduate from two kinds of programs - the traditional 3-year degree and the newer 5-year integrated course. For now, the BCI has decided not to limit the number of attempts a law graduate has to clear the AIBE. Subramanium said the BCI had considered models of bar exams across the world before deciding on the current format.
Law in high school
Subramanium also announced that the BCI has proposed to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), one of the entities responsible for prescribing high school syllabi, to include law as an optional stream in the humanities avenue for students at the 10th or 12th class stage.
In order to increase the enrollment for the exam in the years ahead, the BCI intends to tighten its compliance and policing rules with the help of various high courts and lower courts.
However, Subramanium added that the AIBE was designed to qualify different kinds of legal professionals, including litigators, solicitors and in-house counsels for corporations.
The AIBE was opposed by various members of the legal fraternity, but particularly the graduating class of 2010, since they were first crop of students subjected to the exam. Litigations were initiated in at least 9 high courts, some of which made it to the Supreme Court. None have succeeded yet.