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Supreme Court asks BCI to consider fixing a more “reasonable age limit” for entry into law courses

Murali Krishnan

The challenge in the Supreme Court relating to the age-limit fixed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) for admission to LL.B. courses witnessed an interesting hearing today.

A Bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao asked the BCI to meet and take an appropriate decision regarding the age-limit. The Court also told BCI counsel Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad that the regulatory body should consider fixing a more “reasonable age-limit”. The current age limit is 20 years for five-year LL.B. and 30 years for three-year LLB.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Sanjay Hedge, along with advocate Zoheb Hossain, appeared for petitioners Rishabh Duggal and Michael Sam.

“Why dont you fix a reasonable age-limit? This is not an adversarial matter”, Justice Bobde remarked when the hearing commenced in court 9.

AK Prasad submitted that the age-limit was not new and it had been first introduced in 2008. He also said that the age-limit for admission to the three-year LL.B. course is 30 years, while it is 20 years for the five-year course.

The Court said that if somebody initially took up medicine or engineering and realised later that his calling is law, then such a person would miss out on the five-year course. Prasad responded,

“If a person is not clear with what he wants to do in life, then he might have to…”

Sibal did not allow Prasad to complete his sentence, interrupting,

“Then you will make it clear to him?”

Sibal then proceeded to make his submissions. He argued that the BCI does not have jurisdiction under the Advocates Act to fix an age-limit. That power, he argued, lies with the Centre. He said,

“BCI can regulate us after we have entered the profession. Not before that. The fixing of age limit is the role of Ministry of HRD. So I don’t understand what jurisdiction they have to fix age -limit”.

The Court then proceeded to ask the BCI to take into account all the issues raised by the petitioners and respond by next Tuesday. As the hearing drew to a close, Sanjay Hegde pointed out that admissions to various law colleges have started and are likely to conclude soon.

Justice Nageswara Rao then remarked that the Court would pass an order on Tuesday.

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