The Madras High Court on Friday urged the Bar Council of India (BCI) to take a more serious view of issues touching about the quality of law graduates and legal education (B Ramkumar Adityan v. Secretary and ors)..Such fall in standards means that it is no longer respectful to introduce yourself as a lawyer or judge anymore, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee lamented. "For the sake of the dignity of what you and I wear, I think you (BCI) should look into it more seriously, not as a professional matter, and try to deal with the malaise...(There is) a lot of hesitation. It is no longer respectful to introduce yourself as a lawyer or judge anymore," he remarked. .The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice R Subbiah was hearing a petition filed last year against certain distance education courses in law offered by the Annamalai University, when it took note of concerns such as mushrooming of law colleges, lack of qualified teachers to impart legal training and the ensuing decline in legal education standards..The hearing saw Chief Justice Banerjee orally observe that the quality of law graduates being churned out today is not desirable. ."Today we have how many - more than 3 lakh lawyers graduating every year? So what happens? They discredit the profession… there are orders passed by this Court on how votes are acquired by office bearers (of Bar Associations) ... something must be done at all-India level … You sir, can you put your hand to your heart and say that we have qualified teachers to provide training in these 1,600 colleges?", Chief Justice Banerjee asked the BCI counsel. .Appearing for the BCI, advocate SR Raghunathan informed the Court that the regulatory body is also taking steps to tackle such issues. .In this regard, he pointed out that the BCI had earlier imposed a moratorium on starting new law colleges. However, owing to intervention by various High Courts, the BCI was forced to grant approval for new colleges even after this move, he submitted .The Chief Justice went on to observe that the issue cannot be viewed as confined to particular States or at a local level. He noted that even if one State maintains the highest standards of legal education, a person can just obtain a degree (of inferior standard) from a neighbouring State to come back an enroll in the State of his choice. ."The entire effort of raising the standard in the State is lost," the Chief Justice commented. .Advocate Raghunathan agreed with the concerns raised by the Chief Justice. He added that while the BCI is already taking steps, he will communicate the Court's concerns to the regulatory body. .The Court, therefore, adjourned the case by three weeks. An interim stay earlier issued in September last year will continue in the meanwhile, the Chief Justice clarified. He also hinted that the Court may take up the larger issue raised in this case once normal Court functioning resumes. ."Let injunction continue. We’ll take up the larger issue, someone has to take it up," the Chief Justice said. .The case concerns the award of the LLB (General) and LLB (Academic) courses by the Director, Directorate of Distance Education, Annamalai University. The petitioner has challenged the same as not being authorised by the BCI. .The Court has also earlier recorded the BCI's submission that it has not recognised the said course and that without recognition, no legal education course can be imparted nor any legal degree awarded entitling the degree-holder to practice in India. ."We are supporting petitioner, we are saying such course cannot continue," advocate Raghunathan reiterated for the BCI on Friday. .In April this year, the Court recorded the Annamalai University's submission that it has the right to impart distance education purely for educational purposes and not for purpose of entitlement to enrol as a lawyer. The University argued that it has obtained such a right from the University Grants Commission, prompting the Court to direct the UGC to reply in the matter. .The matter will be taken up next on July 9, by when the UGC is expected to file its reply. Advocate VR Kamalanathan appeared for the Annamalai University.