Report No. 184
Permissions and Inspections
8. The question of maintaining standards of legal education extends to over 460 laws schools and 102 universities. Some of these law schools are university schools, while others are law colleges or law schools affiliated to one or other university. Unfortunately, the Bar Council of India has permitted law schools to be opened not only in State and district headquarters but also in non-district headquarters in several States. Some cities have more than 20 law colleges and some States around 40 or more law colleges. This was done over a decade ago. This has seriously affected the quality of legal education.
8.1 A large number of law colleges were permitted to be started in several places, by the Bar Council of India without properly considering whether the colleges will be able to provide the necessary infrastructure and competent staff and teachers. After their establishment, when later various prescriptions or standards were set by the same Bar Council of India, several colleges were not able to meet the standards. It is therefore obvious that great care has to be taken at the time of grant of permission.
Today, a medical college is not sanctioned unless various items of infrastructure are provide.- including the facility for a 300 bed hospital. We do not mean to say that conditions for establishment of medical colleges and law schools are comparable but nonetheless in the matter of grant of permission to law school.- which are intended to produce good 77 students who will go to the Bar or the Bench later. Utmost care must to be taken by the Bar Council of India at the threshold itself.
8.2 If care is not taken while granting permission, there are bound to be too many and unending inspections which result in uncertainty for the students and staff, apart from avoidable expenditure for the law schools, let alone the expense of frequent inspections both at the stage of initial establishment and also later.
In India, we do require a good number of law schools but they must produce students who have received legal education of sufficient quality. No doubt, several permissions granted to a large number of schools had been withdrawn in the last ten years. Why did it happen? Such closures caused lot of suffering and inconvenience to the students who joined those Colleges. Several of these students had to be absorbed in other colleges. Obviously, the initial inspections were not satisfactory.
8.3.1 The power of the Bar Council of India to grant permission for affiliation and withdrawal of permission for affiliation is contained in the Rules made by the Bar Council of India. The Rules, in our view, are certainly intra-vires of the Act. But the Commission felt that there should be a substantive provision in the Act on this aspect of the power of the Bar Council of India in regard to grant of prior permission to start law course which lead to an enrolment as an advocate and withdrawal of such permission.
The Bar Council of India should exercise this power of granting permission and withdrawal of such permission in consultation with the Bar Council Legal Education Committee. It is proposed to put this aspect in section 7(1) which deals with the powers of the Bar Council of India. The Commission felt that previous exercise of such powers would be justified on the basis of various principles including the 'de-facto' doctrine. But, again, by way of abandon caution, the Commission felt that a separate provision validating all previous action of the Bar Council of India in regard to permission for affiliation or withdrawal of permission be inserted.
It is also proposed that no law college or law department of a university or any other institution should offer or impart instruction in a course of study in law which leads to enrolment as an advocate and no student should be admitted in any such course without obtaining prior permission in this regard from the Bar Council of India. It is further proposed that no law college or law department of a university or any other institution should continue to impart instruction, if the permission granted by the Bar Council of India has been withdrawn.
It is also proposed that any fees or amount by whatever name called collected from any person towards admission in violation of this requirement shall be refunded. Accordingly, it is proposed to put this aspect in proposed section 7A. (The existing section 7A should be renumbered as section 7D).
8.3.2 In order to emphasize the mandatory nature of requirement of prior permission from the Bar Council of India and to deter violation of this requirement, the Commission felt that it is necessary to incorporate a provision that if any person including any institution or body, society, trust or company starts any law course which leads to enrolment as an advocate, without prior permission, or continues to impart instruction, if permission granted by the Bar Council of India has been withdrawn, it would be an offence. For this purpose, section 45A is proposed to be inserted making the violation a punishable offence.