This article was written by Raveena Tandon a student of Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida.
With admissions on hold and a Bar Council of India report recommending seat cuts, Delhi University law faculty aspirants are paranoid.
“By now, admissions to other courses are over. Many must have foregone other offers to study here. People have so many options after the bachelors. But by now, admissions to other courses are over. Many must have foregone other offers to study here.
It’s been almost 4 weeks since the tentative schedule of the admission process was supposed to happen and exactly two weeks since DU academic session has started. In spite of the delay in admissions, there are chances that the current evening batch at Law Center II will be shifted to the North Campus along with the change in its timings. And adding to worries, the matter of number seats being reduced and the troubles of affiliation from Bar Council of India is haunting the aspirants each passing day.
Faculty of Law, Delhi University is often ranked as one of the best Law Institutions in India and it indeed.
The main issue is Bar Council Of India is asking to reduce seats from 2310 to 1440, and scrap evening classes. But Delhi University is already took entrance and released its counselling schedule, and now they cannot reduce seats. DU is asking BCI to give interim relief for this year but Bar Council of India is not in mood to agree in this situation.
Mr Preet Pal Singh, Advocate submits that as per the Legal Education Rules, maximum of 300 students can be admitted to one centre in a particular year. Further, only regular course of study with classes for at least five hours a day are mandated. He submits that evening courses would not satisfy and meet the said criteria. Part-time courses are not recognized.
Mr. Sudhir Nandrajog, learned senior counsel submits that the intake of students in the LLB course had to be increased in view of Central Education Institution Reservation Admission Act, 2006. He states that the University of Delhi will be moving an appropriate application in terms of Rule 5A of Legal Education Rules, 2008 for relaxation for higher intake of students. It will be open to the University of Delhi to point out the relevant facts and figures in support of their case.
WHAT IS THE RULE 5A?
Section 7(1)(h) of the Indian Advocates Act1 states that the functions of the Bar Council of India (BCI) shall be-
“to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils”.
Further, Section 49(1)(d) of the Advocates Act states that the BCI may make rules for discharging its functions under this act, and, in particular, such rules may prescribe- “the standards of legal education to be observed by universities in India and the inspection of universities for that purpose”.
The Supreme Court of India, while interpreting the word ‘consultation’ written in the Article 124 of the Constitution of India, said that the word ‘consultation’ implies binding effect2. Going with the same logic, it can be deduced that the BCI shall make rules prescribing the standards of legal education as advised by the universities (which will be binding on the BCI).
Now, while discharging its functions, BCI approved the Legal Education Rules in 20083. Rule 5A of these rules prescribes that the maximum number of students that can be admitted in a section can be 60 and the maximum number of permitted sections in one class is 5. So, the maximum number of permissible students in a law college in any year is 300. This rule is highly illogical, arbitrary and unilaterally made by the BCI without any consultation with the universities.
While trying to understand the rationale behind the cap on the class size, several questions emerge: ‘why 300?’ , ‘why not 200 or 400?’ , even ‘Is there any requirement of such cap at all?’. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have a variable class size dependent upon various factors like teaching faculty size, classroom size, number of shifts etc. well, because of this Rule 5A, universities are not allowed by the BCI to have any say in deciding the strength of their students(what happened to ‘consultation’?). This is not ‘regulation’ but it is ‘interference’ in the legal education. Undoubtedly, universities (especially government universities) are in a better position than the BCI to set standards for academics. They have experience, academic know-how, and decades of successful track record. So, if any rule has to be made to regulate education, it shall be made after consultation with government universities, if not made by the universities themselves.
OTHER FUNCTIONS OF THE BCI
Like every other professional body, the primary function of the BCI is to regulate the legal profession1, to ensure highest professional conduct from advocates. And clearly, as visible from the latest developments at Madras high court, Hyderabad high court etc, BCI is ineffective in enforcing the standards of legal profession.
The Judiciary is dissatisfied with the BCI to the extent that a 3-judge bench, in July 20164, called for the overhaul of the Advocates act to regulate the legal profession more effectively. The Law Commission of India has also sought a response from the BCI regarding the regulation of legal profession5.
Another function of the BCI is to promote legal education in India1. But, limiting LLB seats in government universities achieves exactly its opposite. From this perspective, Rule 5A is against the spirit of the Advocates act.
The university went out of its way to ready a new building with the best infrastructure. Also, in 2014, in the first inspection of Law Centre 2 in ARSD, BCI had said it’s the best location. India is a poor country and DU is providing a quality law programme at Rs 18 per month tuition fee. BCI should have called the dean of the faculty and discussed the issues, helped DU improve instead of stopping admission. BCI is a regulatory body and should have a more positive approach rather than interfering in the daily routine administrative issues of the faculty.” The law faculty has three centres that admit over 2,310 LLB students every year.
Many students aren’t sure if they would make the cut once a seat plan is finally decided upon by DU and BCI. “The university is committed to give the best facility to the law faculty. And hopefully, BCI, being the regulatory body, will help DU offer quality legal education to students at a nominal fee.
Dean S C Raina said the university was approaching court against the report and would do its best to retain the seats.
A senior DU official said, “BCI is going out of context. The university went out of its way to ready a new building with the best infrastructure. Also, in 2014, in the first inspection of Law Centre 2 in ARSD, BCI had said it’s the best location. India is a poor country and DU is providing a quality law programme at Rs 18 per month tuition fee. BCI should have called the dean of the faculty and discussed the issues, helped DU improve instead of stopping admission. BCI is a regulatory body and should have a more positive approach rather than interfering in the daily routine administrative issues of the faculty.” The law faculty has three centres that admit over 2,200 LLB students every year.
BCI’s report also recommended the scuttling of evening classes. “What will happen to the students already studying in the evening classes system?” said Raina