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There is yet another challenge to the Bar Council of India’s age limit rule for law courses, this time in the Allahabad High Court.
Sanjeev Yadav and 56 others have filed a writ challenging Clause 28, under which the maximum age limit for joining the undergraduate and post-graduate law courses was set at twenty years and thirty years respectively.
Apart from assailing the controversial rule, the petitioners are also seeking a direction to the CLAT authorities to drop the age limit rule for this year’s exam.
When the matter came up for hearing on November 15, Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra had recused from the case. Yesterday, the matter was listed before Justice Anjani Kumar Mishra, who posted the case for November 25. Sai Girdhar Dwivedi is appearing for BCI.
The petitioners will be buoyed by the fact that they are being represented by Sushmita Mukherjee, the lawyer who successfully challenged the age limit rule introduced for CLAT 2015.
However, things have changed since then, and as the BCI pointed out in a notification issued in September this year, Clause 28 stands “revived”. Subsequent to this notification, the CLAT authorities had imposed the age limit rule for this year’s exam. The Maharashtra Law CET Cell had also followed suit, prompting a challenge in the Bombay High Court.
By way of background, the BCI had introduced Clause 28 in 2008, after which a number of writ petitions challenging this rule were filed in various high courts across the country. In 2011, the Punjab & Haryana High Court held that the rule was arbitrary and irrational and that the making of such rule was “beyond the legislative competence” of the BCI. The Bombay High Court had also declared Clause 28 as non-existent, in a petition filed by advocate Yasmin Tavaria.
In 2013, the BCI appointed a one-man committee to re-consider the clause. The committee eventually observed that the rule was violative of Article 14, and ought to be deleted. Subsequently, the BCI passed a notification dated September 28, 2013, withdrawing the rule.
However, a writ was filed later in the Madras High Court challenging the notification amending Rule 28 be quashed. When the matter came before a two-judge bench, the writ was allowed. As a result, the age limit rule technically still stands.
Read the order dated November 17: