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Report No. 184

Chapter III

Membership of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India

3. We shall initially deal with the issue of the membership of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India. The Law Commission's 14th Report (1958) presided over by Shri M.C. Setalvad (see para 53, page 546) referred to the recommendation of the All India Bar Committee, 1953 that the 'Legal Education Committee' should consist of 12 members of whom 2 should be Judges, 5 should be elected by the All India Bar Council and five other persons should be selected and co-opted from the Universities by the above seven members.

3.1 But, the Advocates Act, 1961, in clause (b) of subsection (2) of section 10 prescribed a membership of 10 members in the said Committee of whom 5 were to be elected members of the Bar Council of India and five were to be co-opted by the Bar Council of India from among non-members. It did not specify who were to be the other five non-members to be coopted.

3.2 The Justice Ahmadi Committee Report 1994, for the first time suggested that the 10 member Committee should consist of five Bar Councillors, plus two from the higher judiciary, one from among academicians, and the remaining two, should be the Secretary, UGC and the Secretary, Ministry of Law, Government of India. The suggestion of the Justice Ahmadi Committee has been implemented by the Bar Council of India soon after 1995 and a retired Supreme Court Judge and a retired High 29 Court Judge are now in the Committee as per the above recommendations. There is only one from the academic community. In other words, out of ten, five are Bar Councillors, two are Judges, one is an academician, and the Secretary UGC and Secretary, Law are the other members.

3.3 However, in the Working Paper prepared by the Law Commission (1999) the membership of a 15-member Committee was suggested as follows: five from the Bar Council, five from the faculty, and out of the remaining five, two to be from the Judiciary, and the Secretary, UGC and Secretary, Law are to be the third and fourth members and the fifth should be the Director of the National Law School, Bangalore.

3.4 The Bar Council of India has strongly opposed the above proposal made in the Working Paper in as much as the existing ratio of Bar Councillors which is 5/10 becomes 5/15.

3.5 On the other hand, the Faculty at its deliberations at the All India Law Teachers Congress (Jan. 22-25, 1999) was of the view that in a Committee of ten, there should be more representation to the academic community and that the Ahmadi Committee was wrong in permitting only one from the Faculty to be on the Committee. Of course, a further suggestion was made that the Faculty alone must be concerned with legal education and that the lawyers and Judges have no place there.

3.6 Similarly, the 12.8.2002 Conference at Bangalore called the 'First National Consultation Conference of Heads of Legal Educational Institutions', in its draft recommendations observed (at p. 10)

"The regulatory structure for legal education in India is currently seriously flawed and needs careful reconsideration. A typical law college has four masters at a minimum: the University to which it is affiliated; the State Government, the University Grants Commission and the Bar Council of India. These four agencies have varying mandates, interests and constituencies and do not provide coherent guidance for the improvement of legal education in the country."

It also says:

There is wide concern among legal academics that they are not adequately consulted currently by any of these authorities."

"Of course, the further suggestion is to form an All India Legal Education Council on the model of AICTE for technical education and that the BCI would then be responsible only for regulating entry into the legal profession and maintenance of professional standards rather than for legal education".

But, we feel that if 'legal education' is kept totally out of the purview of the BCI and its role is limited only to admission to profession and discipline of lawyers, it may not be able to prescribe a definite course of legal education which can meet the needs of the Bar. As at present, the Law Commission feels that there are practical difficulties in the way of the suggestion to exclude the BCI totally from legal education. Such a 31 decision cannot be taken without consulting the Bar and the Judiciary. We do not propose to go into this further suggestion for the reason given below.

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