Justice Anand Venkatesh, judge of the Madras High Court
Justice Anand Venkatesh, judge of the Madras High Court
Litigation News

Madras HC urges BCI to consider amending Legal Education Rules to disqualify those who opted for Distance learning from applying for law

"... persons who have not even gone to the regular school or college will get into a law college for the first time in life and that may not be a healthy trend to maintain the quality of education in Law", the Court said

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court recently urged the Bar Council of India to consider introducing necessary changes in its rules so that candidates who do not pursue regular courses in their higher secondary or UG levels are not eligible for pursuing law.

"The Bar Council of India can take a cue from this judgment and make necessary changes in Rule 5 to ensure that the candidates who completes their Higher Secondary and UG through regular course alone are made eligible to participate for selection in the 5 year course or 3 year course, as the case may be."
Madras High Court

Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed an order suggesting the same while allowing a plea moved by a student who was not allowed admission for a three-year LLB course as he had pursued his UG course through Distance Education mode.

The Court noted that, as it stands, Rule 5 of the BCI's Legal Education Rules would not disqualify the student from applying for a law course. Referring to earlier rulings on this issue, the judge explained that such candidates are eligible to pursue law as per a proviso to Rule 5.

His order states,

"The proviso makes it clear that even the applicants who have obtained Higher Secondary or Under Graduation through Distance Education will also be eligible for admission for the 5 year course or the 3 year course, as the case may be. The explanation clearly states that the applicant should not have obtained 10+2 or UG or PG through Open University system directly without having any basic qualification. This would mean that a person who has not completed 10th cannot qualify for 10+2, a person who has not completed 10+2 cannot qualify for UG and a person who has not completed UG cannot qualify for PG. This is the literal meaning for the explanation appended to Rule 5 of Bar Council of India Rules... a person who has obtained the qualification even through distance/correspondence education is eligible to be considered for admission to the 3 year course."

The Court proceeded to remark that it understands concerns raised that such candidates should not be allowed to pursue law. All the same, the Court added that Rule does not reflect such concern, as it stands.

"However, the Rule viz., Rule 5 of the Bar Council of India Rules does not seem to match the concern expressed by the learned counsel for the respondent. The Rule itself provides for a exception to undergo education through distance/correspondence mode. Till this Rule is in force, a candidate who satisfies the requirements of this rule will have to be considered for admission to the course."

The Court, therefore, allowed the student-petitioner's plea and and directed that he would be allowed to participate in the admission process for the next academic year, i.e. 2020-2021.

Notably, the Court also called on the BCI to amed their rules so that only those who have opted for regular courses in their prior education are eligible to apply for law. It added,

"In the absence of the same, persons who have not even gone to the regular school or college will get into a law college for the first time in their life and that may not be a healthy trend to maintain the quality of education in Law. The Bar Council of India should seriously take this suggestion into consideration and make necessary changes to the Rule."
Madras High Court

A copy of this order has also been marked to the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Advocate R Jayaprakash appeared for the petitioner. Standing counsel V Vasantha Kumar appeared for the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University.

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