Maskless Invigilators, No Temperature Checks, Disregard For Social Distancing: How BCI Organised AIBE During A Pandemic

first_imgColumnsMaskless Invigilators, No Temperature Checks, Disregard For Social Distancing: How BCI Organised AIBE During A Pandemic Karan Tripathi24 Jan 2021 10:35 PMShare This – xAfter 15 months, the Bar Council of India finally organised the All India Bar Examination through the physical mode on January 24. The exam, which is organised twice a year, was postponed multiple times in 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic, and with BCI claiming that it was not feasible to organise the same through the online mode. However, as the exam finally took place, law…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginAfter 15 months, the Bar Council of India finally organised the All India Bar Examination through the physical mode on January 24. The exam, which is organised twice a year, was postponed multiple times in 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic, and with BCI claiming that it was not feasible to organise the same through the online mode. However, as the exam finally took place, law graduates appearing for it reported complete disregard for the COVID19 guidelines at the examination centres. In order to secure the safety of those appearing, the Delhi High Court on On January 06 had directed the BCI to issue Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for conducting the exams through the physical model. In pursuance of that order, BCI issued the SOP on January 20, just four days before the exam, incorporating the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for conducting exams. The SOP prescribed for temperature checks, displaying proper symbols at appropriate places to maintain social distancing, and ensuring that there’s no crowding at entry and exit gates. Additionally, the exam centres were directed to collect COVID declarations of applicants before allowing entrance into the premises, identify applicants showing symptoms of fever or cough and either make them sit in a separate room or deny permission to take the exam. The actual situation at the examination centres was of complete disregard for these guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures. At Rani Public School, Burari – an examination centre for candidates appearing in Delhi – there was massive crowding at entry gates, no provision for temperature checks, and utter neglect towards ensuring social distancing. ‘Students were asked to sit behind each other, no desks were left vacant’, said one of the candidates who was taking this exam for the first time, ‘there were no symbols to guide social distancing, and nobody was regulating crowding’, he reiterated. Instead of abiding by the ‘six-feet’ distance rule, extra chairs were put to create an additional row for accommodating more students in the same classroom. ‘We were cramped up in a small classroom, they added more rows instead of creating space for distancing’, said a law graduate from Delhi. At examination centres in Ghevra (Lavi Public School) and Burari (Rani Public School), candidates also reported invigilators without facemasks and absence of any form of screening for COVID symptoms. “Our invigilator didn’t wear her mask, people who were coming for giving instructions also had their masks resting on their chins”, said a candidate who appeared at the Ghevra centre. Candidates appearing at the Burari centre also complained about lack of vigilance of students who were taking off their masks, along with the common complaint of maskless invigilators. The COVID declaration forms of the candidates were collected after the completion of the exam instead of doing it at the time of allowing entry into the premises, as stipulated in the rules. This allowed candidates who finished their exam early to leave the premises without submitting the self-declaration form.  The disregard for COVID guidelines did impact the candidates who came to appear for the exam. While the degree of fear varied among candidates, some of them were visibility distressed about the appalling conditions at the exam centres: “I have no choice but to sit for the exam, the least they (BCI) could do was to ensure our safety… If I catch COVID tomorrow, it will entirely be their fault”, said a candidate who travelled all the way from Dehradun to Delhi to take this exam. Candidates also complained about of lack of hygiene at examination centres, with unclean toilets and dust-covered desks. They believed that the organisers conceived this exam as a “formality”, and took the safety of the candidates appearing for the physical exam for granted. Some of the candidates also expressed “hopelessness” in BCI’s capacity and intent in holding an exam which is ideally supposed to be a gatekeeper to legal practice in India: “Honestly, I knew that they (BCI) will not do anything, I had no hope of them organising this properly’, said a candidate who works as a legal researcher with a Supreme Court judge. “I just came to take this exam as I had no other choice, I knew they (BCI) will not organise it properly.” Maskless invigilators, complete disregard for social distancing, and no COVID screening: the way Bar Council of India organised the All India Bar Exam through physical mode in the middle of a pandemic raises serious concerns regarding its capacity and intent to implement its own guidelines. It also reflects a lack of commitment towards the assurances given before the court in petitions challenging the lackadaisical approach towards undertaking such a nationwide practice. When the consequences of this version of the AIBE will begin to surface, the body organising the exam will definitely have a lot to answer.Views are personal.Next Storylast_img