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Law students completing LLB in 2012 will have to compulsorily clear the All India Bar Examination to be able to practise in courts, the Bar Council of India said today. Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of the council that regulates legal education and the law profession, told a news conference that each LLB graduate will get three consecutive chances to clear the bar exam, which would be conducted twice a year. “If the LLB degree holder fails to clear the AIBE within one-and-a-half years, he or she will not be issued licence to practise in a court of law. This will be implemented with prospective effect from 2012,” Mishra said.
The council and the entire state bar councils will meet tomorrow in Chandigarh to formally approve the decision. Nearly 60,000 students clear the LLB course every year from around 950 law colleges across the country. The majority immediately start practising in courts. The bar council, which along with the state bar councils has the authority to issue licences to law degree holders to practise, started the bar exam in 2009 but did not make it mandatory then and continued issuing licences to all LLB graduates who applied for one. As a result, LLB graduates were not bothering to sit for the bar exam. “The AIBE was not made mandatory because certain state bar councils opposed it. But now all bar councils have agreed to make it mandatory so that only meritorious students join the profession of law,” Mishra said. In view of allegations of large-scale malpractice in LLB examinations, the bar exam would be a useful benchmark, said Biri Singh Sinsinwar, a Jaipur-based lawyer and member of the bar council. Sinsinwar said those who fail the bar exam can pursue further studies in law but would not be able to practise. The bar council will soon constitute a board to conduct the exam. It will include judges from the Supreme Court, high courts, vice-chancellors of national law schools and eminent lawyers. “This will be an open book exam. Candidates will be free to take help of any books. The questions will be set in a manner that there would not be any fixed answer,” Mishra said. Mishra criticised the Higher Education and Research Bill introduced by the HRD ministry in Parliament, saying it seeks to encroach on legal education, which is the exclusive domain of the council. The Advocates Act gives power to the council to design law courses, give approval to institutions and regulate the profession of law. “There are provisions in the Higher Education and Research Bill which will undermine the power of the BCI to control legal education. We have met leaders of Congress, BJP, TMC, DMK and other political parties to seek their support for opposing the bill in Parliament,” he said.
Courtesy: The Telegraph
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