I am very happy to know the news that the Bar Council of India has already taken a decision to conduct an All India Qualifying Examination for law graduates for entering into profession. I don’t think that there will be an illogical uproar in legal circles in India on the proposed Examination to be conducted by the Bar Council of India. Even if there is an illogical uproar, it is the time to forcibly implement the reforms at any cost as otherwise, the damage to the legal profession; legal system and the society will be irreparable. We have already seen so much damage to the dignity of legal profession in India. I don’t think that the proposed Qualifying Examination will instantly ensure the standards at the Bar, but, it is just a beginning and we need to go a long way in this direction. I have also heard that the Bar Council of India has disapproved the Human Resource Ministry to conduct the examination and decided to conduct it on its own and Rain Maker is assisting the Council in this regard. It is to be seen as to how the Question Paper is prepared. It is to be seen as to whether the Qualifying Examination is conducted like another LL.b course conducted by many colleges in India barring very few and the National Law Schools. I really appreciate the efforts taken by Shri Veerappa Moily and Shri Kapil Sibal and the Government in this regard. In my view, the proposed Qualifying Examination is just a beginning in ensuring required standards in the legal profession and we need to go a very long way in this direction. The preparation of Question Paper is entrusted to eminent personalities as believe and it would be a challenging task really. The Qualifying Examination must ensure that the graduates with basic standards or required standards enter into profession. We may have to see the pattern of question paper during next December and we will definitely see the availability of many Question Banks in the Market for completing the Bar Council’s Qualifying test thereafter. The Bar Council of India and the eminent preparing question paper should consider the object of the Examination and it is so important.  There were two proposals in the past for ensuring truly qualified lawyers entering into profession. One is about making Apprenticeship compulsory and the second one is about Qualifying Examination.  I don’t think that the Apprenticeship will serve purpose logically and will achieve the objective. Many know as to how to get Apprenticeship Certificates and the fact remains that many work with some Senior Advocate initially in the profession. Qualifying Examination can really send a message to the students and the students planning to join law and it will be successful if the Qualifying Examination is such that it recognizes the graduates with basic required qualities. It is interesting to watch.

In my opinion, this is the first step in reforming our legal system. When we talk about legal system, it will comprise even the prosecution or the investing authorities. Reforming the entire legal system is a complicated exercise and it will come only with the overall development in India and when we see complete political reforms. What the regulatory bodies regulating the legal education and profession, senior advocates, responsible lawyers and the Government can do is that they can do their best to ensure quality education in all law colleges in India, can ensure recognition and encouragement to the talented new entrants in profession and in Courts. I personally believe that this is the right time to bring the required legal reforms as the Government supports the cause. I have heard Dr. Manmohan Singh showing so much concern at the legal education, legal profession and the system. I have heard Shri Kapil Sibal on reforms in education in India including legal education. Many noted lawyers of Supreme Court and in India like Shri Ram Jethmalani, Sri Kapil Cibal, Sri Arun Jaitley, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singvi and many others are playing an active role in politics. If our Senior Lawyers in India and the Senior Lawyers playing active role in politics come together to think about the legal education and reforms in legal profession, then, I am sure that we will witness the needed reforms. Our Senior and Privileged lawyers have a responsibility to the legal fraternity. We see as to how Shri Arun Jaitly is playing an active role in Delhi Cricket Association and in IPL and on the same lines, we see many Senior Lawyers in India could undertake many responsibilities simultaneous to their profession. They have a right to do so? But, when the dignity of the legal profession is in big trouble and when people start loosing faith on our legal system, then, it is a serious issue than Cricket and Politics. It is about society, people and Public Interest. I will be very happy if our Senior Advocates show some concern at the legal education, profession and needed reforms in one way or other.

I personally believe that if few of our noted lawyers come together with a clear intention to reform our legal education and profession, then, we can see the implementation of reforms within days and the influence of senior advocates in India is in public domain. It is true that the proposed Qualifying Examination will make it clear that no one will be allowed to practice law if he is not truly qualified and do not possess the basic required knowledge. It is an appreciable move and can be seen as a first step in bringing the lost dignity of the profession back. Dr.Manmohan Singh has made true remark that “when we look at experts to head our law colleges and universities, we have precious few to take”. Dr.Manmohan Singh was thus stressing on imparting quality education in all law colleges in India. Thus, we need to focus on the law colleges in India and they are to be well regulated. Attendance in colleges to be strict and exemption from the attendance can not be granted easily on ‘Medical Certificates’. There should be strict regulatory body to conduct serious inspections in law colleges very frequently and without prior information. If the private law colleges in India show poor strength as an excuse for not being strict on attendance of students and other issues, then, it is better to ask them to close the college itself.  Again, law colleges should give the required training to the law students in the college itself through debates and Moot Courts. All this debates and Moot Courts to be video-graphed as a regulation and I don’t think that it is a costly affair at all. The illogical rules regulating the law colleges are to be removed. Even if a law college do not show a certain pass percentage, it should not be taken seriously if they ensure strict regulatory compliance. By bringing very simple changes in the regulations and procedure, our entire legal education system in India, for sure, be corrected. Correcting our Court practice, dealing with the role of Bar Associations, computerization, simplifying procedures and judicial reforms is another bigger and complicated issue to concentrate. I am hopeful that the legal profession gains its lost dignity back and I feel that it will take some time to bring the required reforms and to see the results, provided we are able to see the involvement of few Senior Advocates all over India in this direction.

Note: The views expressed are my personal and I have no intention to insult anyone or the institution. My only intention and curiosity is to see betterment in legal education and legal profession.

Author: V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court

Email: [email protected]

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  1. Ram says:

    One exam will not reform India…There should have been an entrance exam for taking students for law course like NLSIU and not exams like these..

  2. raja says:

    The arbitrary holding of a bar exam is unconstitutional. Before holding it, the Advocate Act 1961 must be ammended by a legislative enactment approved by both houses of parliament. It was catagorically stated by Hon`ble Supreme Court of India in V.Sudeer V Bar Council Of India AIR 1999 SC 1167 that inclusion of any additional criteria for the practice of law over and above of what was mentioned in the section 24 of the Advocate Act was unconstitutional

  3. maduraisiruvan says:

    i am the first year student of 3 years course of LL.B. my father is an uneducated. before i joined this course my father asked me how many semester you have? i told six semester but now it seems to be added one more semester.

  4. monali says:

    Respected Authorities,
    The examination is a good attempt to filter students. But in my opinion this provision must be applicable to all the professional courses. After pursuing law course for 3/5 yrs and then being judged by the BCI is a bit unfair such exams must be conducted before joining the law course as “All India Entrance Exam for law” inorder to select the appropriate candidate.This decision is biased the exam should be “for all or for none” i.e for all lawyers in general.

  5. arunima says:

    Respected Authorities,
    Its a good provision but it must be implemented for each and every existing lawyer who has already registered as an Advocate. If not then the purpose will not be served. According to me reforms must be from grass-root level.

  6. hanumant says:

    Good article, Durga Rao.

    Anil, you have raised some very valid points. As with any govt. agency, I am sure that the exam conducted by BCI will not be all that great. The people working at BCI are not that different from Universities. So yes, passing the BCI exam is no guarantee that only good people are entering the profession.

    However, the important this is that it is a good start. Fixing the problems with Universities is beyond BCI’s reach. So taking a nation wide exam to ensure that Students study at least the basic things is the next best thing.

    I am sure after a couple of years there will be cheat sheets for this exam as well. But then again, the exam pattern can be improved.

  7. Anil kukreti says:

    Respected Sir,

    I am final year student of LL.B. I have read your article on taxguru in this regard i want to say something.
    We all know that at present the college/ university providing LL.B. degree is need to be apporved by Bar Council of India otherwise it is invalid. Advocate can practice in any court after having valid and BCI approved LL.B. Degree. Exams counducted in all universities are based on the pattern provided by BCI. Now BCI has decided to conduct an qualifying exam which is needed to be passed for practising as a Lawyer.

    Now the question is whether BCI has doubt that all LL.B. passed students are not capable to practice as lawyer ? if yes, than it is its responsibility to ensure why those students gets LL.B. degree because BCI has authority to approve college for law degree.
    As approving authority, the basic aim and responsibility of BCI should be to ensure the quality education so that quality lawyer can be produced and they serve to the society whether practising or not. Coducting exam after passing a valid and approved degree cannot be said as a legal education reform as it starts when legal education is completed.

    But it is also well known that how approval from BCI is obtained by the universities. The present case of Medical Council of India we all know. There is no reason to belive that same thing is not happning in BCI. I personally know many colleges where basic norms are not followed such as compulsary attendance etc. Hence nobody is following there duties.

    further it is also unanswered that the student not passed the qualifying exam, what they will do after spending three years in LL.B and other time in preparing for qualifying exam and why BCI approved degree carrying student is not passing its qualifying exam?

    Hence on considring the above facts i would like to say that if you are agree with these facts then please put your voice to actual legal education reforms and not to other foreign bassed patterns followed by the BCI.

    I further want to add that myself and also other many students have started our legal education after being snaped by the time and this exam will delay the aim of becoming practising lawyer, though i will do my best effort to clear it in first attempted but still it will delay me atleast one year.

    Thanks & Regards

    Anil Kukreti

  8. rangaiah says:

    The Bar Council Test should also be made applicable to the existing advocates so that the system can take away the incompetent lawyers and filter the Bar Council Members

  9. Deepti says:

    I have read a couple of your other articles on the legal profession. While I concur with your views, I think the reforms as you suggest will not come solely from senior counsels or lawyers in politics but from the legal fraternity as a whole, the younger generation if you like who want to bring about a change in the education system and the profession as a whole. The Bar exam is a welcome change but it needs to be seen how effectively this will be implemented and what the curriculum is for the same. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic here but it needs to be seen whether this change is something that is really a step towards betterment of the profession

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September 2021