- Apprentice Lawyer
The BCI had recently notified the BCI Legal Education (Post Graduate, Doctoral, Executive, Vocational, Clinical and other Continuing Education) Rules, 2020 (Rules) scrapping the one-year LL.M course. The rules were notified in the official gazette on January 4.
It mandated that the post-graduate course in law leading to Master's degree, i.e LL.M has to be of two years spread over four semesters.
The Rules also partly derecognised foreign LL.M stating that the same shall be equivalent to LL.M obtained in India only if it is taken after obtaining the LL.B degree from any foreign or Indian University which is equivalent to the recognized LL.B degree in India.
The petitioner, Tamanna Chandan Chachlani, who is a law student, has challenged the Rules to the extent of abolishing one-year LL.M programme and failing to recognize LL.M from foreign universities.
The petition, filed through advocate-on-record Rahul Shyam Bhandari, states that the Rules infringe the petitioner's fundamental right to education and is discriminatory.
It also amounts to interference in her right to practice profession and will adversely affect her future career and liberty of choosing quality education, the plea says.
There is no rational clarification for abolishing the one-year LL.M program in the country and the decision by BCI is vague, the petition adds.
It has also been submitted that the BCI does not have powers to regulate higher education in the field of Law. That, the plea points out, is the job of University Grants Commission or of an expert body. Thus, the notification is ultra vires its parent Act, i.e. Advocates Act of 1961, it has been claimed.
The BCI Rules, besides scrapping one-year LL.M also prescribed a slew of other aspects relating to the same.
It stated that admission to LL.M will be through Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law (PGCETL) which is conducted by the BCI. Until the PGCETL is introduced the present system followed by respective Universities shall be followed. Once the BCI introduces PGCETL it shall be mandatory to admit the students from the merit list of the Test.
With respect to an LL.M obtained from a foreign university the Rules said that "LL.M. degree obtained from a Foreign University, which has been prosecuted without an equivalent LL.B. degree shall not be equivalent to Indian LL.M. degree," it has been prescribed.
Besides, the Rules also prescribed various new conditions to be satisfied by the University to offer an LL.M course including student teacher ratio not exceeding 1:10 and maximum student strength of 20 in each branch of specialization subject to maximum of 50 students’ overall in the LL.M program of the institution.
Introducing and running an LL.M. Program is the direct responsibility of a University and cannot be sourced out to any affiliating institutions, the Rules added.