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AIBE: Supreme Court Questions the Object of the Exam

The hon’ble apex court ruled that the right to practice is the fundamental right available to the lawyers. The court on Tuesday asked whether the All India Bar Examination violated the right to practice profession as guaranteed under the fundamental rights. According to the rules notified by the Bar Council of India in 2010, the law graduates have to pass the AIBE to practice law within two years after the enrolment. This rule was imposed, according to the Bar Council of India, to maintain standards of legal profession.

The Supreme Court declined with this view and disagreed with the point of the BCI. The bench consisted of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice U.U. Lalit who asked the BCI the mode of holding this exam and the basis of such examination without amending the statute. The BCI raised the argument that the exam was started as per the suggestions given by a committee constituted for the purpose. But the court pointed out that the same committee had recommended for amendment of the Advocates Act. The court also said when there exists a rule that one has to pass an examination after enrollment to practice as a lawyer will violate his right to practice a profession. New conditions cannot be imposed subsequent to the enrolment, the court stated. If such a rule is necessary, it should be done during enrolment.

The court further called for the report of the Law Commission regarding such an examination. The rules framed by BCI was challenged by R Nagabushana, a resident in Bangalore and asked the court to quash the notification issued by BCI. The counsel for the BCI contended that the examination was conducted as ruled by the Supreme Court. But the bench clarified that the exam was to be conducted only after amendment. The court made it clear that the right to practice is a statutory as well as fundamental right. The BCI further argued that this exam is being conducted to assess the basic knowledge of law and also the analytical abilities of the candidate.

Adv. Jewel Panicker