One of the first things which we aimed at doing once we were in Chennai was to get ourselves enrolled in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Puducherry, so that we could take the All India Bar Examination IX (AIBE IX) which was earlier slated for 13th December.
It was already October when we started the enrollment process, and we had our fingers crossed that we meet the 12th November deadline for registration for the exam (Registration for the AIBE cannot be done without enrolling in a State Bar Council, since candidates are required to upload a copy of their certificate of enrollment at the time of registration for the AIBE; where the certificate of enrollment has not yet been issued to a freshly enrolled advocate, the candidate may upload a letter from the State Bar Council stating the enrollment number instead).
When we first spoke to a person who had recently enrolled with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, she informed us that the entire process is long-drawn and takes about 2-3 months and that in all probability, we would not be able to take the exam in December.
A little disappointed yet undeterred, we resolved to start the process at the earliest (our best shot was that the online registration date for the AIBE IX would be extended). The registration form for the State Bar Council of Tamil Nadu can be completed online but since the instructions for filling the form are not very clear, we thought it best to go to the Bar Council personally and register ourselves (thanks to our friend, we knew which documents we would need at the time of registration, and we were hopeful that it would not take us more than a day to complete the registration process). The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Puducherry (as the State Bar Council in Tamil Nadu is called) is located at walking distance from the Chennai Beach railway station (the last station on the Velachery-Chennai Beach MRTS route).
The office hours of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu are from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Suffice to say that the day involved running from pillar to post to get documents photocopied and attested by the notary, filling bank challans etc.
The total enrollment fee per person for the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu is ₹8600 (the entire amount is payable through cash challans at the Indian Bank branch situate in the Madras High Court premises). The breakup of the fee is as follows:
1500- Application Form
3000- Advocates Welfare Fund
3600- Bar Council, Chennai
350- Group Insurance Scheme
150- Bar Council of India
Apart from this, we were also required to give an affidavit and undertaking [where the candidate undertakes to pass the AIBE within 2 years of enrollment in the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council] (in the format specified in the application form) on ₹20 stamp paper.
Briefly, the documents required are as follows:
- 3 passport-size photographs (photographs must be taken in formal attire, but the application does mention that for female candidates, photographs taken in plain dress would suffice)
- 2 Character Certificates by Advocates of 10 years’ standing or above (the character certificates are Forms VI & VII in the application form which state that the advocates know the candidate for atleast 5 years and they are fit to be admitted to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu; as I understand, your application for enrollment is said to be “moved” by these advocates).
- The original provisional marksheet or degree certificate from your law school (this is returned by the Bar Council once your enrollment is complete)
- Additionally, you need to submit 2 sets of photocopies of each of the following: ID proof, address proof, Class 12 marksheet, Class 10 marksheet, transfer certificate, conduct certificate (optional), attendance certificate (optional), migration certificate, provisional degree certificate and the transcript of grades from your law school [all the photocopies must be attested].
An important point to bear in mind is that one cannot enroll in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu if one is engaged in part-time or full-time employment elsewhere (pursuant to the Bar Council of India Rules).
From the time we reached the Madras High Court premises, it took us nearly 3-4 hours to complete our application form. I could not help breathing a sigh of relief that it had been well-worth the trouble, now that we were finally submitting our application forms! This jubilation, however, was premature…the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu has an idiosyncratic requirement that all prospective candidates must give a “notice of intention to practice” in a leading newspaper in Chennai like The Hindu or Makkal Kural (the list of newspapers is specified in Form III of the application form) before they enroll. The format of this ‘public notice’ is given in Form IV of the application and a newspaper clipping carrying this advertisement must be submitted along with the enrollment application form. The newspaper advertisement held up our application form for a few more days and we finally submitted our form on 19th October.
After this, we were told that the next step in the process is police verification which happened for us after roughly 2 weeks. At the time of police verification, you will need to hand over a set of photocopies of the documents (photocopies of which you had submitted during enrollment) to the police.
Once this is done, enrollment in the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council is generally automatic if all your documents are in order and no discrepancy is found. The Bar Council waits to receive the police verification report and the university verification report (the Bar Council verifies your degree certificate with your law school) before fixing the date for enrollment [You can always call the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu to enquire about the status of your application].
This list is updated regularly on the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council website and fresh batches are enrolled twice a month (before the floods hit Chennai this year, enrollment generally took place in the first and the last weeks of every month). On the date fixed for enrollment, the candidate is required to be present before the Bar Council at the stipulated time and in the prescribed dress code (formals). From what I gather, this is a mere procedural formality, where attendance of the candidates is recorded. From thereon, the enrollment is automatic and the list of the successfully enrolled candidates is published on the TN State Bar Council website, along with their respective enrollment numbers.
Although the police verification in our case happened before 13th November, we were certain that we would not be enrolled in time to take the AIBE IX. After frantic emails to the AIBE Helpline detailing our predicament and requesting extension of date for online registration for the exam, we left much to fate to work itself out and mentally prepared ourselves for the eventuality that we might have to wait for the AIBE X. Our joy knew no bounds when we discovered that the AIBE IX had been deferred to March, 2016, giving us enough time to enroll…and with that, we breathed easy.