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The BCI wants to nominate an “expert” for all faculty selection committees + more

Aditya AK

After aiming to bring about changes in the legal profession last year, the Bar Council of India (BCI) is now looking to amend its Rules of Legal Education, 2008, as first reported by LiveLaw.

In a circular dated January 2, the BCI invited comments on its proposed changes to the Rules from the heads of all universities imparting legal education. Through this amendment, the BCI seeks to change things with respect to the faculty composition in law colleges, and determine the equivalence of law degrees obtained from foreign universities with those obtained in India.

But perhaps the most significant change proposed is that found in Rule 56;  the BCI wants to nominate “an expert member” to be part of the faculty selection committee for each law university, and the university’s affiliated institutions.

The rule reads,

“[Rule 56] Composition of the Selection Committee: The Selection Committee for faculty positions in law in each University and its centres for legal studies (affiliated institutions) shall comprise one expert member nominated by the Bar Council of India.

The Bar Council of India may nominate one or more expert members, one of whom shall be invited by the University to attend to such selection committee meetings.”

That is not all.

Some of the other proposed amendments are discussed below.

Core Faculty at Law Schools

The amendment calls for a core faculty of full-time teachers of a certain strength in each law school. For the five-year integrated course, one whole time faculty each is required to teach English, at least three Arts subjects and nine Law subjects.

For those colleges offering B.Sc. and B.Com/BBA courses, three faculty members are required in each course.

Moreover, a faculty appointed to teach one law subject cannot be shown to be teaching another.

The strength of the faculty will be determined by the core faculty and the work load of the faculty members as stipulated by the UGC. The amendment also necessitates universities to maintain a faculty-student ratio of 1:20; if a university fails to maintain such ratio for over three months, a penalty will be imposed.

Qualifications of Faculty

The amendment Rules also lay down the minimum qualifications for appointment to various posts in the universities. To qualify as an Assistant Professor, a faculty must have at least 55% marks. The Rules seek to do away with the existing requirement of having an LL.M. as an essential qualification. Qualifying NET or an equivalent test and having a “good academic record in all public examinations throughout academic career, having similar percentage of marks” are the other requirements.

Perhaps taking into account the dearth of faculty in Indian law schools, the BCI has sought to relax the requirement. If there is no suitable Assistant Professor available, the university may consider a lecturer or teaching assistant with at least three years’ experience for the post. Provided that the person completes the Ph.D. thesis within three years.

Associate Professors are required to have at least eight years’ experience teaching as an Assistant Professor, five papers published in peer reviewed national/international journals and a minimum score in the Academic Performance Indicator (API), stipulated by the UGC. Professors are required to have fifteen years’ teaching experience, eight publications, and are required to guide at least two scholars for their respective Ph.D’s.

Equivalence of degrees

The BCI also proposes to introduce conditions on the fulfilment of which degrees obtained from foreign universities will be considered equivalent to Indian degrees.

The equivalence will be determined based on the number of years required to get admission into a foreign law school, and the number of years taken to obtain the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees abroad. Other criteria include the subjects studied, history of the university and the status of reciprocal agreements with India, for those with a foreign degree looking to practice in India.

The Rules also state that for the purpose of enrolment, no undergraduate degree obtained abroad will be considered equivalent to an Indian LL.B. degree. A person with such a degree may be permitted to write the Bar exam and enrol once she completes a “bridge course” on Indian laws. Those with a Master’s degree from abroad which is not equivalent to an Indian LL.M. have to take an M.Phil course if they want to teach in an Indian law school.

The BCI also intends to maintain a directory of senior lawyers of high courts and district courts with at least fifteen years’ experience who want to be part-time faculty and take students on four week internships during the holidays.

It will be interesting to see whether the proposed amendments are met with approval by the heads of law schools and departments across the country.

Read the BCI circular: