Pinnacle Court ordered Bar Council of India that to ensure quality entry into the legal profession; improve Bar Exam Standards

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The apex court made concern over degradation in the quality of legal education in the country and said that improvements are needed in the system at the entry level.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Bar Council of India against a Gujarat high court order which allowed a single mother to enroll as an advocate without resigning from her job.

"I want to also mention something on the responsibility of the BCI to hold proper exams and make recommendations on how to improve the system at the entry-level. Make some suggestions..." said Justice SK Kaul, who was heading the bench.

Counsel, appearing as amicus curiae in the matter, suggested working out a mechanism, where people coming from employment are not enrolled and given the certificate at the outset, but rather put on a register qualifying them to write the examination and based on the result, the enrolment would follow.

Counsel added that the person might be permitted to enroll with the Bar after they qualify for the written examination followed by a rigorous viva.

The bench noted that it might not be proper to permit enrolment while a person still holds on to their existing employment. It further pointed out that when a professional enrolled with the Bar leaves the legal profession, they do not surrender their enrolment certificate, which is something the BCI should also regulate.

As the hearing commenced, senior advocate KV Vishwanathan, appointed as amicus curiae, submitted that a mechanism can be evolved where employed persons are not enrolled and given the certificate at the outset.

“Problems start with law schools. It is mushrooming. In Tamil Nadu itself, there are over 110 law schools. Where are the law teachers? More or less they are fictitious... Antisocial elements get admission in colleges. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, law courses are taking place in cowsheds. You have to make introspections,” the bench said.

The bench also pointed out the fault with the examination conducted by the BCI for allowing law graduates to practice and said that unlike other entrance exams there is no negative marking for wrong answers in Bar exams and that the Council should also introduce negative marking. 

The court said that the BCI could learn from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India on how to maintain quality checks at the entry level to ensure that people possessing a proper understanding of the law are allowed to enter the profession.

The Bench finally pointed out there are ample instances where people get law degrees without attending classes and therefore, it is imperative to set out more serious criteria for entry into the legal profession.