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Bar Council Of India: An Overview

The Bar Council of India is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar. We perform the regulatory function by prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar. We also set standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate.

In addition, we perform certain representative functions by protecting the rights, privileges, and interests of advocates and through the creation of funds for providing financial assistance to organize welfare schemes for them.

The Bar Council of India (BCI), headquartered at Delhi is a constitutional body formed under the Advocates Act, 1961. BCI regulates legal education and professional standards in India including directing the state bar councils, standardizin law education, and course the framework at the universities and law colleges in India as well as conducting the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) to grant 'Certificate of Practice' to advocates practicing law in India. BCI also funds welfare schemes for economically weaker and physically handicapped advocates. The law graduates have to enroll with their state's bar council on payment of Rs 600 and Rs 150 to the BCI.


Bar Council of India under its formation has been given powers to regulate many things. Few major powers that BCI holds are divided amongst the committees set up by the Advocates Act. Section 9 of the act sets up the Legal Education Committee and under Section 10 an Executive Committee is set up. Chapter III of the Bar Council of India Rules permits the Council to form more committees in addition to those specified in the Act. The Council also has the power to delegate the duties or functions to these committees.
  • Legal Education Committee has the power to make recommendations to the council for laying the standard of legal education. This committee also goes for inspection to different universities and reports to BCI.
  • Disciplinary Committee of BCI hears an application for revision by persons against summary dismissal of their complaints against advocates for professional misconduct, by the state bar councils.
  • Executive Committee deals with all the questions related to the management of funds, affairs of the staff, allotment of work, audit, accounts, library, and legal publications delegation.
  • Advocate Welfare Committee is empowered by the Advocates Welfare Act, 2001. This committee looks after the application procedure made by advocates for welfare funds. It also verifies their application and provides the fund.
  • Legal Aid Committee has the power to offer services to the poor, who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. This committee gives the payment of the court from the charges of preparing a case, drafting to filing the case.
  • Other committees look after the infrastructure of the council's office across the country.
  • All these committees work under the BCI. BCI has the power to discontinue of recognition of any University which is based on the recommendation by the Legal Education Committee. BCI also hears every appeal which is proceeded by the Disciplinary Committee.
  • BCI has the power to conduct the All India Bar Examination (since 2010) wests an advocate's ability to practice law. An aan advocate must pass this examination to practice law in any court.
  • BCI also conducts the National Moot Court the competition promotes advocacy skills amongst law students through Bar Council of India Trust (public charitable trust). There is an Indian Bar Review which is a quarterly journal of BCI and is among the top legal periodicals in the country.

Legal basis:
Advocates Act, 1961 is the act that provides for the constitution of the Bar Councils and an All-India Bar.
  • Section 3 of the act talks about the State Bar Council whereas Section 4 the act talks about the existence of Bthe ar Council of India. Section 4 of the act also talks about the members who will consist of structure BCI. The Attorney- General of India and the Solicitor- General of India will be ex officio. It also talks about that there will be one representative from each State Bar Council.
  • Section 5 of the act establishes that BCI will be a corporate body as there will be perpetual succession and a common seal, and can it sue by the name which it is known.
  • Section 7 of the act mentions all the functions to be performed by BCI. An amendment was made by Act 60 of 1973 and more functions were inserted in Section 7. Section 7 also gives power to BCI to become a member of international legal bodies, for example, the International Bar Association. The Act in Chapter II states all about the council through different sections. Under Chapter II, the constitution of the different committees, the criteria of disqualification of members, a staff of Bar Council, etc. are mentioned.
  • Bar Council of India Rules also laid our rules, which were made by BCI in the exercise of its rulemaking power under the Advocates Act, 1961. Bar Council of India Rules lays down the procedure for the election or the termination of the members of the council. It also specifies the powers of the chairman and vice-chairman of the council. Not only this it also talks about the procedure of the meetings of the council or the meeting of the committees and their reports. Chapter IV of the rules gives the qualification and conditions of service of the secretary, accountant, and other members of the staff.
  • All these sections and Advocates Act lays down the legal basis of BCI.

Functions of Bar Council:

The Bar Council of India was established by Parliament under the Advocates Act, 1961. The following statutory functions under Section 7 cover the Bar Council's regulatory and representative mandate for the legal profession and legal education in India:
  • To lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates.
  • To lay down the procedure to be followed by its disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committees of each State Bar Council.
  • To safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of advocates.
  • To promote and support law reform.
  • To deal with and dispose of any matter which may be referred to it by a State Bar Council.
  • To promote legal education and to lay down standards of legal education. This is done in consultation with the Universities in India imparting legal education and the State Bar Councils.
  • To recognize universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate. The Bar Council of India visits and inspects Universities, or directs the State Bar Councils to visit and inspect Universities for this purpose.
  • To conduct seminars and talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest.
  • To organize legal aid to the poor.
  • To recognize a reciprocal basis, the foreign qualifications in law obtained outside India for admission as an advocate in India.
  • To manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council.
  • To provide for the election of its members who shall run the Bar Councils.

The Bar Council of India can also constitute funds for the following purposes:

  1. Giving financial assistance to organize welfare schemes for poor, disabled, or other advocates,
  2. Giving legal aid, and
  3. Establishing law libraries.
The Bar Council of India can also receive grants, donations, and gifts for any of these purposes.

Eligibility for Enrollment of Advocates to the BCI:

The Advocates Act, 1961, Section 24, states the qualifications of an individual permitted to enroll in the BCI. This the section stipulates that conditional on the Act's provisions and the rules framed, an individual shall be qualified and eligible to be enrolled as an advocate on a State roll if he/she meets the prerequisites as below:
  • They should be an Indian citizen; a resident of any other nation can be permitted as an advocate on a State roll provided Indian citizens who are duly qualified, are authorized to practice law in the other nation, subject to other limitations.
  • They should be a minimum of 21 years.
  • They have obtained a law degree after completing three years of law course from any university within India that is recognized for the objective and intent of the Act by the BCI. In a few cases, an advocate who has gained a degree from any University outside India, and if the degree is recognized for the objective and the intent of this Act by the BCI, he may be admitted.
  • They must satisfy such other prerequisites as stipulated in the rules made by BCI
  • At present, an Ian individual who desires to get enrolled as an advocate has to first clear the BCI exam. Subsequently, the person can enroll himself/ herself under any State Bar Council (SBC). Eligible individuals are admitted as advocates on the rolls of the SBCs. The Advocates Act empowers SBCs to formulate their own rules concerning the enrolment of advocates. The Council's enrolment committee will examine a candidate's application. Different SBCs have framed their own rules concerning enrolment as an advocate. Nevertheless, many of the SBCs require candidates to apply together with their law degree and mark sheets along with a judicial stamp paper and necessary fees.
  • The candidates have to send the application fee for enrollment with SBC and BCI through the separate Demand Drafts to each.
  • Those admitted as advocates by any SBC are eligible to take the AIBE that is conducted by the BCI. Passing the AIBE grant state-enrolled advocates with a Certificate of Practice (COP) that facilitates them in practicing law as an advocate in any the ower court and High Court within the Indian territory.

All India Bar Examination:

AIBE is a national level exam that is organized by the BCI and has been designed with fulfilling the objective to assess the capability of advocates who have a strong desire to practice law in India. This examination is conducted semi-annually and tests advocates on procedural and substantive law. The AIBE will appraise skills at a fundamental level and fix a minimum benchmark for admission to practice law. After passing the examination, the candidate will be awarded the Certificate of Practice (CoP) by the BCI, and they become eligible to practice law in India.

The Bar Council of India has plenty of capacities vested inside itself, whereby practicing those capacities can rebuild and reframe the entire legal field in the nation. Indeed, it very well may be all the more overwhelmingly visualized, that in present-day times it has scarcely contributed valuably to the improvement of law in India. Bar Council of India is working effectively, although there have been talks related to an increase in the power of BCI to ensure more effective command over the law as a profession. Meetings are held regularly to ensure the smooth functioning of BCI.

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