Just before the upcoming All India Bar Examination, 2020 (AIBE) is scheduled to take place, disabled students have raised concerns surrounding the accessibility of the exam..Visually impaired persons especially have highlighted that the policy of the Bar Council of India (BCI) is not in line with the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016..An aspiring lawyer has claimed that the BCI refused to provide him reasonable accommodations for appearing in the upcoming AIBE. He has gone as far as to say,"The BCI being the primary regulator of the legal profession in the country, has been creating barriers to the entry of disabled lawyers at the very beginning of their careers.".Speaking to Bar and Bench, the blind law graduate says that the existing norms are quite "arbitrary", and that there are no clear directions on how to avail the facilities of a scribe for the AIBE..The list of concerns raised include lack of a dedicated helpdesk for disabled students, no response to emails, and no separate room for visually impaired students to write the exam..The law graduate also pointed that the BCI is flouting the Guidelines for conducting written examination for Persons with Benchmark Disabilities, issued by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare in 2018..The 2018 guidelines specify the following:.The facility of Scribe/Reader/Lab Assistant should be allowed to any person with benchmark disability as defined under section 2(r) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, i.e. not less than 40% of a specified disability, and has limitation in writing including that of speed if so desired by him/her; The candidate should have the discretion of opting for his own scribe/reader/lab assistant or request the Examination Body for the same; In case the candidate is allowed to bring his own scribe, the qualification of the scribe should be "one step below" the qualification of the candidate taking examination; Compensatory time of not be less than 20 minutes per hour of examination should be allowed for persons who are allowed the use of scribe/reader/lab assistant; As far as possible, the examining body should also provide reading material in Braille or E-Text or on computers having suitable screen reading software for open hook examination..In this backdrop, the aggrieved law graduate had urged the Council to (i) grant him approval for bringing a scribe for writing his examination, (ii) provide him extra time of 20 minutes per hour to write the examination, and (iii) permit him to carry a laptop, since AIBE is an open book exam..However, the regulator initially denied him permission to carry a laptop for the examination as it "may facilitate cheating".On the other two accommodations, BCI replied by saying that a decision would be taken on the date the admit card is released..Subsequently, the BCI permitted him to carry a laptop, without internet facility. On the point of scribe, BCI permitted him to bring a scribe, who should be "just 12th qualified, not earlier than 2019." . Pertinently, the 2018 guidelines clearly specify that the scribe should be "one step below" the qualification of the candidate taking the examination..Whereas the 2018 Guidelines prescribes 20 minutes per hour as compensatory time for persons with disabilities, the BCI has "self-invented" a percentage bracket of at least 50% certified disability, for claiming compensatory time.."AIBE is flouting the laws and 2018 guidelines. These are not even privileges but basic rights. This is futile exercise, while non-disabled students are busy preparing for the exam, we (disabled candidates) are trying to ensure we can give the exam properly", the candidate said..And going by the experience of visually impaired students in the past, this is no new development. In fact, it was alleged that BCI has been having this inconsiderate attitude for almost a "decade". Speaking to Bar & Bench, Rahul Bajaj, a visually impaired lawyer who gave the AIBE in 2017, said that he had faced similar challenges in obtaining the legally guaranteed accommodations when he gave the exam. ."The stipulation that the scribe must be no more than a 12th pass student in 2019 or after betrays a profound inability to accept the capabilities of the disabled and strikes at the heart of their freedom to choose a scribe. When I asked them to allow me to use a laptop with a screen reader, the pushback initially was that they had been told that "the computer can tell you all the answers". This reflects on the unreasonable and baseless thinking of BCI", Bajaj said..Speaking on the current scenario, Bajaj lamented that “not much has changed, unfortunately”.“They (BCI) don’t consider disabled people seriously. Actually, they view it is a favour and not as a legally entitled right…It is appalling for the principal regulator of the legal fraternity to have such an apathetic and insensitive stand and have brazen disregard when issues are raised.”.For a disabled person with connections in and around the legal field, it maybe easier, however, it is quite difficult for the "average disabled person" to enforce his/her rights, he added. .On a concluding note, he said,“Not every disabled person would be as determining as us. Therefore, it is the need of the hour for BCI to be more sensitive to issues faced by disabled students... This is not a favour that the students are asking for, but legally guaranteed rights”..AIBE XV is scheduled to be held on Sunday, January 24.