A series of the Bar council regulations and its implications 2020

BCI regulations - 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India - 2-year LL.M criteria - judicial service examination - Bar Council regulations
BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations

Bar Council regulations why in news?

On 2nd of January, 2021 the Bar Council of India had filed a writ petition [(Civil) bearing No.1479/2020] in the Supreme Court against the State of Andhra Pradesh. Prior the Andhra Pradesh government had slashed the BCI recommendation of having a minimum of 3 years’ experience at the Bar before being eligible to appear for the Judicial Service Exam.

This move by the BCI has reignited the long-existing debate as to whether a minimum practice at the Bar should be a requirement for appearing for judicial service examination. There is no doubt that the new law graduates lack the required practical experience to sit in a position of such gravity. Fresh law graduates merely have theoretical knowledge of the law which is insufficient to practice law in a court.

In pre-independence times, the 3-year experience criteria were in force. In the 14th Report of the Law Commission of India, it noted that it is virtually impossible in the legal profession to acquire the necessary experience in 3 to 5 year. However, the commission was in favour of retaining the three years’ experience criteria as the law graduates might just get some knowledge and exposure to the actual working of the courts. In the 116th and 118th Law Commission report, it was well debated that the 2 to 3 years’ criteria didn’t provide sufficient experience to be a better judge. However, in the 118th report consensus was made to retain the three-year experience criteria.

1993 AIJA case

For a long period, respective state governments had modified the eligibility criteria for judicial services. Finally, some uniformity was established when the Supreme Court in All India Judge’s Association v Union of India[i], attempted to resolve the dispute. The Hon’ble court noted that law graduated from their very first day as judicial officers have to decide matters concerning the life and liberty, freedom, property of people. Such vital decision-making powers are not desirable in the hand of new law graduates with minuscule practical knowledge. Thus the Supreme Court upheld the experience eligibility criteria.

The Justice Shetty Commission Report pointed out that there are cases where brilliant young student drifts away from judicial services because of the said requirement. Moreover, with the establishment of the National Law Universities (NLUs) imparting legal education, the law had started becoming a viable and competitive career option for the aspirants. After considering this the Supreme Court in 2002 reversed the judgement of 1993 dismissing the 3-year experience criteria.

Understanding the Morale of Judiciary

There is an obvious comparison between the judicial services and the executive services (by the Union Public Services Commission) as career options and more so as the nature of employment. In the 1993 AIJA case, the Supreme Court noted that “judges are not employees……. The judges, at whatever level they may be, represent the state and its authority unlike the administrative executive or the other services.” Therefore the members of the other services cannot be on par with the judicial services. In executive services roles and duties discharged is completely different at a different level, however, the responsibilities vested in the judges is the same through the judicial setup difference lies only in the jurisdiction.

Reality check

Why almost every first-generation lawyer are inclined towards judiciary or judicial services? Because it is the only segment in the legal field where candidates are chosen not on the basis on “Contacts” they have but solely on their merit and capabilities. A student coming from a legal background will easily get into practice/ internship under a senior advocate just because they are ‘so-and-so’ of ‘someone’ who is in the legal fraternity.

Students like will have the opportunity to gain tremendous knowledge in a very short period. Such students would naturally not care to even give the judicial services examination. The question here arises, does the 3-year experience criteria encourage or reignite the spirit of the young minds in giving judicial serviced examination?

Whatever may be the answer to this question, we have to keep in mind that the observations made by the BCI are still at the preliminary stage and much deliberations are yet to come from both the viewpoints. The BCI is also required to address the problems pointed out by the Shetty Commission which said that “… In the initial years of legal practice, the lawyers neither gain any experience nor earn anything in the absence of any work with them”[ii].

The commission was to the point in implying that in the initial years the fresh law graduates live solely in hand to mouth existence, let alone the enormous money spent just to gain that legal knowledge. Under these circumstances, young minds become frustrates and are justified in running away from judicial services. The BCI has to keep all these factors into account before making a solid decision.

The 2-year LL.M criteria

The BCI has made yet another announcement scrapping the 1-year LL.M course which was introduced in the year 2013. The BCI has made it compulsory the master’s degree in law, LL.M to be spread across 4 semesters summing up to 2 years. Such an LL.M degree can only be obtained after passing a 3 year or 5-year LL.B course.

The BCI has also announced a new entrance examination namely, the Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law (PGCETL) which shall be conducted by the BCI for admission into Universities for LL.M degree.

It added that an equivalent LL.M foreign obtained without obtaining an equivalent LL.B degree will not be equivalent to an Indian LL.M degree.

BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations


[i] (2002) 4 SCC 247

[ii] Justice K.J Shetty Commission Report

BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations BCI regulations – 1993 All India Judge’s Association v Union of India – 2-year LL.M criteria – judicial service examination – Bar Council regulations