The Bar Council of India (“BCI”) submitted an affidavit indicating the reforms it wishes to undertake in response to the Supreme Court’s suggestion to reassess the current method of induction into the legal profession in order to improve the quality of professionals joining the Bar.
On March 15, 2012, a Bench comprised of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh presented recommendations on the quality of legal education, the flaws of the Bar Examination, and the development of a framework for juniors to secure chambers placement. Mr. S.N. Bhat, a senior advocate for BCI, has requested time to take instructions and prepare an affidavit in this regard.
The affidavit was produced by BCI in support of a petition contesting a Gujarat High Court decision that permitted those having other jobs, whether full-time or part-time, to enroll as Advocates without resigning.
Candidate Enrolment for those looking for work:
During the hearing on January 25, 2012, the Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocate, Mr. K.V. Viswanathan argued that candidates who have a job can be given a roll number to take the exam, but they can only request enrolment after that.
“…Your Lordship might consider a system in which people are not enrolled and given a certificate, but instead are placed on a list that qualifies them to take the exam and then awarded enrolment.”
He also advised that such individuals be subjected to a thorough viva examination prior to enrolment.
The Bench felt there was a need to strike a compromise between the Bar Council’s requirement that candidates quit from their current employment while seeking enrolment as an Advocate even before passing the Bar Examination and the fundamental right to pursue a profession.
BCI stated in its affidavit that the matter is being considered. It was pointed out, however, that making the All India Bar Examination a pre-enrolment examination would go against the Supreme Court’s decision in V Sudeer v. Bar Council of India, which held that a law degree from a recognized university, along with the fulfillment of other statutory stipulations as enumerated in the Advocate Act and State Bar Council and BCI rules, was sufficient for enrolment and no other pre-qualification could be imposed.
AIBE is Overseen by a High Power Monitoring Committee:
It was said that AIBE is overseen by a High Power Monitoring Committee chaired by a former Supreme Court Judge, and that attempts are being made to improve the quality of attorneys entering the legal profession by making the screening process more stringent. BCI stated that only bare acts without comments were accepted for AIBE 16 in 2021, and that it would impose stricter testing parameters in the future. Another High Level Committee, made up of Senior Advocates and former Supreme Court/High Court justices, is investigating the issues.
Newly Enrolled Advocates are Placed:
The BCI will appoint a High Power Committee to investigate the validity of young law graduates’ mandatory chamber placement with senior Advocates or Advocates with 25 years of experience at the Bar, or to develop a fair procedure for juniors to gain placement in chambers. The BCI would then ask these Advocates to hire at least 5 such juniors in their chambers if they were approved.
BCI also plans to draught rules that will compel young lawyers to take an online objective test. The meritorious junior law graduates would be placed in the chambers of Senior Advocates or Advocates with 25 years of experience at the Bar based on the results of such a test. Other graduates will be assigned to Advocates with a combined experience of 15-20 years.
Admission to law schools at the state level is determined by a state-level entrance exam:
The Bar Council of India’s Legal Education Committee and the Advocacy Board have indicated an interest in exploring a system in which a State Level Entrance Test for admission to Law Colleges would be introduced by the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India and the Advocacy Board. It promised that the relevant authorities would discuss the matter at their next meeting.
Approximately 500 institutions have been designated as sub-standard.
According to the BCI, some 500 institutions have been recognized as sub-standard, and a team of former judges, senior advocates, and prominent academicians are planning surprise inspections. If these institutions are determined to have insufficient facilities or infrastructure, steps will be taken to revoke the approval granted to them to offer Legal Education courses.
BCI’s challenges as a regulating organization
The following are some of the challenges that BCI has experienced in regulating Legal Education:
The Universities are responsible for enforcing the BCI rules.
The LL.M. degree must be improved in order to increase faculty quality; the degree is issued by the university, and they or the state government makes appointments;
The BCI is unable to examine the merit of academics appointed because this is done only by universities.
Previously, the BCI had no role in higher legal education; the BCI seeks to eliminate the one-year LL.M., which has proven to be a useless degree;
For the past 15-20 years, state governments have failed to fill several jobs that have been empty.
1 year LL.M. program scrapped:
According to the BCI, only a few universities are interested in conducting research on the subject of legal education. Furthermore, the University of Georgia does not provide appropriate financial support to the Centre of Legal Education (“CLE”) for this purpose. As a result, students seek higher legal education abroad, resulting in a scarcity of qualified teachers in the country. As a result, BCI intends to create a two-year LL.M. degree rather than the current one-year programme. On 07.03.2021, the BCI arranged a conference with the VCs of law institutions to discuss this problem. It was decided that a one-year LL.M. would be permitted for professional purposes but not for teaching.
To be eligible to teach LL.B. courses, a one-year LL.M degree holder would need to complete 6 months of law teacher training.
- Australia: Australia has decided to implement a 2 years LL.M course.
- USA: The undergraduate course is for 4 years. Then the student is required to undertake a 3 years law degree. Thereafter, the master’s degree is for one year.
- UK: The LL.B course is for 3 years, but the LL.B degree holder is not permitted to join the legal profession. They have to undergo 2 years of training under a solicitor or law firm and then pass a Bar examination. The LL.M is for one year. But, if the LL.M holders intend to teach, they have to undergo a minimum 3 years of law teaching course before joining as an Assistant Teacher.
BCI stated that it plans to open a Teachers Training Academy in Bhubaneswar, where candidates will be trained by Supreme Court Judges, High Court Judges, prominent academics, and jurists. It anticipates launching a Professional Skill Development Program for Advocates. The BCI also stated that an Advisory Board for the advancement of legal education has been established.
The BCI had earlier requested in 2015 that the state governments and universities limit the number of institutions awarded affiliation for the next three years. In 2019, a three-year restriction on the opening of new institutions was imposed once more. The resolution was challenged, and the Punjab and Haryana High Court overturned it as a violation of Article 19(1) (g) of the Indian Constitution. The BCI was forced to lift the moratorium as a result of this.
The causes for poor progress in improving legal education standards were recognized by BCI as follows:
- A scarcity of high-quality legal professors.
- Some CLEs modify attendance records to portray fake attendance, despite the fact that the BCI requires students to attend at least 70% of classes in order to be eligible to take the exams.
- The BCI is uninvolved in the admissions and examinations conducted by colleges.
- Students’ use of unequal means.
- Teachers are preoccupied with other activities such as teaching at foreign institutes, attending seminars, and participating in TV discussions, among other things.
CASE TITLE: Bar Council of India v. Twinkle Rahul Mangonkar And Ors. Civil Appeal No. 816-817 of 2022
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