For the first time, around 25,000 fresh law graduates will appear in a mandatory open book written exam on December 5, the result of which will determine whether they would be eligible to practice as lawyers in Indian courts.
The exam will be conducted by Bar Council of India (BCI), the regulator for legal profession and education in the country, in nine languages and in 27 centres across the country.
“The exam will be of three hours and 30 minutes duration with mainly multiple-choice questions to be answered by ticking the correct one. The candidates will be allowed to use reference books during the exam,” said professor VB Coutinho, the chairman of BCI’s directorate of legal education.
Candidates will have to score a minimum of 40% marks to qualify this exam, but there is no limitation on number of chances for a candidate to pass this test, which will be held twice a year from 2011 onwards.
BCI sources said the move to hold the exam followed a direction from the Supreme Court last year, following which the law ministry included it in the blueprint for legal reforms.
“The Advocates Act, 1961, may need to be re-visited in consultation with the senior member of the Bar to consider re-introduction of mandatory apprenticeship and introduction of a qualifying exam for advocates before admission to the bar,” says the ministry’s blueprint approved by the union cabinet in December last year.
Asked about the reported proposal from the law ministry to postpone the exam, a BCI functionary said :“We have not been approached so far. Moreover barely four weeks before the exam for which nearly 25,000 students have paid R1,300 each and are preparing, it would not be possible.”