Fresh law graduates will have to clear a new test from this year to be eligible to practise in court, the Bar Council of India (BCI) said Wednesday.
The test, which will cost a candidate Rs 1,300, will be conducted twice every year by the BCI, the apex statutory body to regulate the legal education and profession in the country, said its chairman and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium.
The announcement was made in the presence of Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily at the launch of BCI’s vision document and its new website.
The first such eligibility test would be held Dec 5. It would be conducted in nine languages, the BCI chairman said.
The BCI has partnered with Rainmaker, a pioneer in legal training and recruitment, to conduct the All India Bar Examination, which would earn fresh law graduates a BCI licence to practise in courts.
Apparently conscious of the fact that the BCI’s decision to hold the qualifying test may not go down well with legal professionals, Subramanium said that clearing the qualifying exam will be compulsory for law students graduating this year and for all future batches.
“It will not be held retrospectively,” said the BCI chairman, clarifying that in case a fresh law graduate fails to clear the test, he would be eligible to appear in the next exam six months later.
There would be no bar on the number of attempts that a fresh law graduate can make to clear the qualifying test, said the BCI chairman.
Denying suggestions that the new qualifying test, will lead to monopolizing of the legal education and profession in the country, Subramanium said that as a statutory regulator of legal education and profession in the country, the BCI was authorized to conduct such tests.
He said that the BCI did not approve of the union ministry of human resource development conducting such a test.
Seeking to assure that the exam will not be scary affair, Subramanium said: “The exam will serve as a benchmark test to ensure a basic level of skill and knowledge in those joining the legal profession and intending to practise law in India.”