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The Madras High Court yesterday struck down the Tamil Nadu Establishment of Private Law Colleges (Prohibition) Act, 2014, which imposed a blanket ban on the establishment of new private law colleges in the state, reports the Hindu.
The First Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan held the Act, notified in 2014, to be ultra vires Article 19(1)(g) the Constitution of India.
The Act was apparently passed with a view to ensuring affordable legal education for weaker sections of society in the state. The statement of objects reads,
“…private persons are not able to provide legal education at affordable cost to the economically and socially weaker sections.”
However, it was challenged by the Advocates Forum for Social Justice, SMM Educational Foundation and Vanniar Educational Trust in the High Court, back in 2014. C Jagadish appeared for the petitioners.
Defending the legislation, the state government pointed to the fact that the Bar Council of India had in September last year, passed a notification asking all state governments to restrict the number of ‘no-objection certificates’ granted to law schools to check the mushrooming of law colleges in the country.
The Bench rejected this argument, and was quoted as stating,
“The problems are myriad. The educational institutions run by the government often face a challenge of quality education, while private educational institutions, run on a commercial basis, seek to create financial burden on those desirous of education. Thus, a balance has to be maintained between providing quality education at affordable cost.”
Last year, the High Court had passed an order suggesting the disbanding of the BCI as well as the scuppering of the 3-year law course.
Read the Act, which has been struck down: