The legal profession is “crying for reforms” and lawyers cannot be allowed to a have a “free ride as the administration of justice is a key area”, the Supreme Court observed today and sought response of the Bar Council of India on a plea against the bar examination which has been made mandatory for granting advocacy license.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit issued notice to the BCI on a plea seeking quashing of the 2010 notification by which lawyers will have to sit and clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE).
The court, which has now fixed the plea before a three-judge bench on Friday, did not stay the upcoming AIBE saying that it is not “averse” to it and would examine as to whether it is permissible under the Advocates Act.
“The system is crying for reforms…There are over two million lawyers in the courts. Which means, we have enough lawyers and the future inclusion must be on merits,” it said, adding, “the profession is not something where you can have a free ride”.
The bench equated the profession with the likes of medical and said, “if a man is incapable then he will not be able to get and handle the cases. You (BCI) have to ensure that even a junior lawyer is capable to handle all kinds of cases”.
The CJI, during the hearing, referred to past practices of Jammu and Kashmir and said that a person had to undergo various stages before becoming a lawyer who can argue in constitutional courts — High Courts and the Supreme Court.
“There are law colleges where you may not have faculty, no library or where attendance will not be marked. I believe there are law colleges where you have to just go and pay the fees, the rest is taken care off,” the CJI said.
“The more this profession gets overcrowded, the more the malpractices because people will have to survive. You have to make a mechanism so that only the best come into the profession…,” the court said.
The bench also said the earlier system of “pre-enrollment” professional training for a lawyer may be re-considered.
The bench, hearing the plea filed by Karnataka resident R Nagabushana, said that it may also consider appointing senior lawyers like F S Nariman as amicus curiae to assist it in this matter.
During the hearing, the court said, “We have too many
lawyers practising the profession and this profession has become overcrowded” and there has to be a system in place to ensure that only capable professionals enter the profession.
The plea, seeking quashing of BCI’s notification on AIBE, alleged that it takes away the statutory right, given to an eligible person to practice law.
The Advocates Act provides that a law graduate can practice law and introduction of AIBE is not mandated under the law, the plea said.
The BCI conducts AIBE to examine an advocate’s capability to practice the profession of law and it has been made mandatory.
The apex court yesterday had observed that the right to practice law is a fundamental right for LL.B degree holder and introduction of the examination by Bar Council of India for granting advocacy license “negates” the very right.
The BCI had claimed that the AIBE assesses skills at a basic level and is intended to set a minimum benchmark for admission to the practice of law.
“It (AIBE) addresses a candidate’s analytical abilities and understanding basic knowledge of law,” the bar body said.
The notification bringing the AIBE into force was passed by the Legal Education Committee and the members of the Bar Council of India in meetings held on April 10 and 30, 2010.
( Source – PTI )