Fresh law graduates have to clear Bar exam

The Bar Council of India (BCI)'s decision that beginning this year, fresh law graduates who want to take up practice should clear an all-India Bar examination to be held in December, has evoked mixed reaction from advocates organisations and advocates.

The Tamil Nadu Advocates Association has disapproved of the BCI decision. Its president S. Prabakaran says it is untenable in law. On completion of the law degree, there is a legitimate minimum expectation of a student to take up legal practice.

This right is affected by the proposed move.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had struck down the Council's proposal to introduce a one-year apprenticeship. It had also held that no minimum experience in Bar was required for an advocate to become a magistrate. That being the position, the Association failed to understand how the proposed examination would stand legal scrutiny.

The examination will definitely serve as an effective filter and only those serious about taking up practice will write it, says M. Velmurugan, an advocate.

The examination will not help anyone in any way, opines S. Vaidyanathan, another advocate.

Being an open-book format examination in which candidates will be permitted to take the books with them, no purpose will be served by conducting the test.

There should be a system of compulsory apprenticeship for two years by which new entrants to the profession will be able to grasp the skills of advocacy better from seniors.

The focus should be on enabling the new graduates to acquire more practical knowledge, he says.

The national examination is, in a way, welcome in that it will help check whether the examinees know at least the basics in law, particularly in the context of the presence of several law colleges and law courses in various parts of the country.

Even if the examinees are permitted to take books with them, they should have studied the material so as to give the correct answers to the questions, says a jurist.