The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned whether conducting All India Bar Examination (AIBE) was a violation of the fundamental right to practice a profession, leaving the Bar Council of India in the docks. Law graduates are required to clear the AIBE within two years of their enrolment in order to practice law. Its rules notified in 2010, the AIBE was advertised by the Bar Council of India (BCI) as a positive step to improve the quality of the legal profession.
But the Supreme Court failed to agree with the logic of the lawyers' apex regulatory body, at one point even asking the BCI whether it has "become a law unto yourself." “How are you holding this examination? What is its basis without any statutory amendment?" a Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice U.U. Lalit asked.
When the BCI argued that the AIBE was introduced on the basis of the recommendations of a committee set up by it, the Supreme Court intervened to point out that the same panel had primarily recommended amendments in the Advocates Act. “To say that one has to pass an examination for practising as an advocate will negate his or her right to profession. He has a fundamental right to practice. Conditions can't be put after enrolment. If, at all, it is required, the condition should be put at the enrolment stage," the Bench said.
The apex court has called for Law Commission reports on the issue of holding such an examination and posted the case for March 2.