Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com
RTI reveals BCI gave Rainmaker 69 of the funds raised through AIBE BCI terminates contract with Rainmaker
News

RTI reveals BCI gave Rainmaker 69 of the funds raised through AIBE BCI terminates contract with Rainmaker

Bar & Bench

An RTI application filed by Associate Editor, Raghul Sudheesh with the Bar Council of India (BCI), seeking information regarding the funds generated through the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) revealed that BCI has received a total amount of Rs. 6,98,23,300. This amount has been generated through the three AIBEs conducted so far. Out of this, a major portion of Rs. 4,84,46,900 has been given to Rainmaker for conducting the AIBE.

An RTI application filed by Associate Editor, Raghul Sudheesh with the Bar Council of India (BCI), seeking information regarding the funds generated through the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) revealed that BCI has received a total amount of Rs. 6,98,23,300. This amount has been generated through the three AIBEs conducted so far. Out of this, a major portion of Rs. 4,84,46,900 has been given to Rainmaker for conducting the AIBE.

AIBE, initially introduced to setup basic minimum standards for lawyers in India, has raised several questions putting BCI’s own credentials at stake. Earlier, many issues arose relating to the outsourcing of the AIBE to Rainmaker without following a proper tendering process.

Current developments show that the financial side of the AIBE conducting process seems to be quite different from what was initially proposed by the BCI before the Apex Court.

At the time of the introduction of the AIBE, BCI Chairman Gopal Subramanium had stated that the revenues generated from the Bar exam will be divided equally between the BCI, State Bar Councils and Rainmaker.  Another claim that was made by the BCI was that the funds generated through conducting AIBE will be used for legal education reforms.

However, the RTI reveals a different picture of the financial arrangement between BCI and Rainmaker. It was proposed by the BCI that the revenue generated through the AIBE will be divided equally between the BCI, the state bar councils and Rainmaker. Therefore, according to this initial proposal, the amount that Rainmaker should have received for conducting three AIBEs should be approximately Rs. 2,32,74,433 while the amount that Rainmaker has received is more than twice the announced sum (approximately 70 per cent of the funds).

The obvious question that comes to mind is why Rainmaker was given two-third of the income when it was publicly announced that the Rainmaker’s share will be one-third.

Bar & Bench contacted both BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and Rainmaker CEO Nikhil Chandra to get clarification on these issues.

Mishra said, “We have terminated the contract with Rainmaker and we are looking for a new agency to conduct the exam”. He declined to comment further on this. While Chandra told Bar & Bench that, “As a policy we do not comment on any matters with respect to the AIBE and I would request you to reach out to the BCI for any clarifications that you require.”

Initially Chandra had described the association with AIBE and BCI as challenging, with “creating long term value for the legal profession and the legal industry as a whole” as their driving force. However, looking through the actual monetary stakes involved, along with the performance of Rainmaker, the real “driving force” at work here needs to be questioned.

The above mentioned facts related to the AIBE raise some serious concerns. Firstly, the outsourcing of the examination and that too at such huge expenses questions the efficiency of the BCI itself. While BCI is the institution responsible for checking the credentials of the law graduates in the country, its inability to conduct the AIBE on its own, questions the credibility of the institution itself. Even if the outsourcing of the examination process is done, BCI is obligated to use a fair tendering process.

As such, considering the constant attempts of the BCI to uphold its regulative powers over legal education, the current steps taken by the BCI with regard to AIBE, does not qualify them as the most appropriate authority to do so.

However, sources indicate that BCI is planning to set up an independent body of experts to conduct AIBE and to issue public notice and invite public tenders. This step, if executed in the near future can contribute significantly in lowering down the costs of conducting the AIBE. Thus, the plans of reforming the legal education sphere may get a boost. However, if the status quo is maintained, the efficiency of the BCI would be facing a big question mark.