The highest court of the land has affirmed the authority of the Bar Council of India to administer the All India Bar Examination.

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The Supreme Court recently declared the Bar Council of India’s right to conduct the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). Those who pass the AIBE will be permitted to function as lawyers at courts throughout India. A bench of five justices including SK Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, AS Oka, Vikram Nath, and J K Maheshwari were listening to cases challenging the legitimacy of the AIBE exam.

The court, led by Justice SK Kaul, granted the Bar Council of India (BCI) sufficient authority under the Advocates Act in order to set up regulations. As a result, it is left to the BCI to decide whether the AIBE is to be conducted before or after the enrolment process. This judgment was made in response to a petition which looked into a variety of topics pertaining to the AIBE, including when it should be declared by the BCI under the 1961 Advocates Act.

In September last year, the bench had put aside the verdict after listening to the arguments. In March 2016, the Supreme Court noted that one of the issues to be settled was if the BCI had the right to set an examination to be taken after the registering of an advocate as a requirement for them to continue practicing. The court commented that these questions, which have a major effect on the legal profession, needed to be answered by a Constitution bench.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) had raised three questions, including whether it is permissible for them to impose pre-enrolment training in accordance with the Training Rules of 1995 set forth in the Advocates Act of 1961, and if so, if the ruling in Sudeer vs Bar Council of India & Anr needs to be reconsidered by a five-judge panel.

Mayank Tewari

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