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The Delhi High Court has held that the Bar Council of India’s Rules of Legal Education, 2008 and the Policy Guidelines of the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Higher Education are not in conflict with each other and have to be read in harmony.
The judgment was pronounced by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Anu Malhotra in a petition by Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Education & School of Law.
It was the petitioner’s grievance that the Directorate of Higher Education had refused to grant a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the Petitioner for the continuance of the BBA LLB course for the academic year 2019-20 with an additional intake of 60 students i.e. a total of 180 students when the Bar Council of India had already granted due approval to the Petitioner for the same.
The petitioner had argued that the refusal to grant NOC for an intake of 180 students was in violation of the approval granted by the Bar Council of India (BCI).
The petitioner submitted that the sanction granted by the Bar Council of India after an inspection was sacrosanct as it was the statutory body governing the field of legal education.
It was stated that the Bar Council of India’s Rules of Legal Education, 2008 which was a special enactment traceable to the 66th Entry in the List 1 of the 7th schedule of the Constitution of India, 1950 and the Advocates Act, 1961 had precedence over any other law including the Policy Guidelines of the Directorate of Higher Education and the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Act, 1998 which governed the State University.
The petitioner added that when the provisions of the Central Statute and a State Statute are inconsistent and repugnant to each other, the Central Statute has to prevail over the State Statute and any inconsistency with Central law has to be inoperative.
The Directorate of Higher Education, on the other hand, submitted that the petitioner was not entitled to an intake of 180 students in the BBA LL.B. course as it did not satisfy the minimum space requirement in terms of the Policy Guidelines of 2016.
The Court was informed that the Bar Council of India had not laid down any norms with regard to the space requirements for the conduct of the BBA LL.B. course and the relevant rules on the subject were the Policy Guidelines.
The Directorate of Higher Education also pointed out the Bar Council of India’s inspection report had itself revealed that the petitioner had insufficient classrooms and that an assurance was given by the Director of the College that it would construct additional classrooms in a short while to make up for the paucity of space.
The Bar Council of India also submitted that the requirement of space was governed by the rules of the University of the State government. The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University also supported the non-grant of approval due to lack of space.
After hearing the parties, the Court opined that the prayer made by the petitioner could not be granted.
It noted that although the Bar Council of India provided for minimum standards of legal education, its grant of extension of approval to the petitioner for an intake of 180 students for the academic year 2019-20 was subject to the other conditions.
The Court further noted that the Rules of Bar Council of India itself stipulated that the space requirements had to be in accordance with the regulations of the respective authority of the University under the regulations guided by the UGC.
It also noted that the petitioner has itself failed to comply with its undertaking given to the Court on a separate occasion to construct additional space in the college premise to accommodate more students.
The Court also rejected the submission with respect to the supremacy of Bar Council of India Rules and said,
” (the contention is) wholly misplaced in the facts and circumstances of the instant case in as much as the Bar Council of India Rules of Legal Education Part IV and the Policy Guidelines of the respondent no.1 Directorate of Higher Education have to be read in harmony and are not in conflict with each other..”
In view of the above, the petition was declined.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Sameer Rohatgi, Akshit Pradhan, Kunal Kumar, Dipender Chauhan & Soumya Sarin.
Directorate of Higher Education was represented by advocate Gautam Narayan with Anuj Aggarwal.
BCI was represented by advocate Preetpal Singh.