Report No. 14
51. Council of legal education (Their function.).-
As far back as 1936, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar suggested the establishment of a Council of Legal Education to supervise legal education and to conduct examinations in law.1 The need for such a Council has since been given expression to by a number of bodies and eminent persons. The Bombay Legal Education Committee proposed that such a Council should be established. One of the reasons which induced the Committee to propose the establishment of such a Council was the "feeling in the country that legal education ought to be standardised in all the Provinces with the ultimate object of creating unified Bar."2 The functions of the Council which they envisaged were:
1. Law College Magazine (Bombay), 1936 p. 15.
2. Report, p. 47, para. 74.
"(1) To advise the Universities in the matter of law courses and text books.
(2) To bring about a co-ordination into the work of instruction and examinations carried on by different professional bodies and the Universities so that overlapping may be prevented.
(3) To hold Diploma Examinations and confer Diplomas in Law, and
(4) Generally to supervise legal education in the Province so that a uniformity of standard may be maintained."1
1. Report, p. 48, para. 94.
They made it clear, however, that it was not their desire to take away the autonomy of the Universities in the matter of legal education. The Council of Legal Education was merely to prescribe the minimum legal education required for admission to the Bar. The Universities were at liberty to add to these minimum requirements. The Council of Legal Education was to function at the Provincial level and was to be presided over by the Chief Justice of the Province and was to have as its members, judges, the Advocate-General, the Government Pleader, the President of the Incorporated Law Society, representatives of the University and nominated representatives of the Bar, the law teachers and the Bar Council.
Views in favour-A similar recommendation for the establishment of a Council of Legal Education was made by the Rajasthan Legal Education Committee.1
1. Report, pp. 74 to 77.
52. Establishment unnecessary.-
If we are not to interfere with the autonomy of the Universities in the matter of legal education and if the professional training and the examination for admission to the Bar are to be under the control of the Bar Council, the question arises whether it is necessary to bring into existence a new supervisory body of the nature recommended by these Committees. The main object which appears to have induced the acceptance of this suggestion by these Committees, seems to have been the bringing about of a uniform standard of legal education for admission to the Bar with a view to the formation of a unified Indian Bar. It appears to us an necessary to establish a new body of this character for achieving this purpose. Indeed, it is a matter of doubt whether the establishment of such separate Councils of Legal Education for each State would at all achieve this purpose.
53. All-India Bar Council to lay down standards.-One of the main subjects to which the All-India Bar Committee of 1953 gave its attention was the formation of a unified Indian Bar. The Committee had made detailed and practical recommendations which envisaged a common roll of advocates for the whole country with liberty to practise in all courts in the country. It considered the qualifications for admission to the common roll of advocates and recognised the need for co-ordination between the professional bodies which would impart practical instruction in law, hold examinations in it and thus regulate admission to the Bar and the Universities which would deal with the academic side of legal education.
For achieving this end, it suggested that the All-India Bar Council which was to consist of representatives of the various State Bar Councils should have a Legal Education Committee of twelve persons. The Committee was to consist of two judges, five persons to be elected by the All-India Bar Council and five other persons from the Universities co-opted by these seven members.1
1. Report, pp. 22 and 40, paras. 59 and 92.
We understand that legislation on the lines suggested by the All-India Bar Committee is on the anvil. It appears to us that the object of achieving a uniform standard of legal education for admission to the Bar will be equally, if not better, served by this recommendation of the All-India Bar Committee. The unnecessary multiplication of statutory and other bodies is a feature common in our country and needs to be avoided.
54. Power to All-India Bar Council to require minimum standards (Inspection and recognition of law schools).-
We have already seen how in England professional legal education and the admission to the profession are controlled by a body consisting exclusively of professional men. There is no reason why a similar control and regulation should not be vested in the profession in India. Coordination between the bodies regulating professional training and the Universities with a view to ensuring minimum standards can be achieved in the manner indicated above.
In our view, the Legal Education Committee of the All-India Bar Council may be empowered to keep itself in touch with the standards of legal education imparted at the various Universities by visits and inspection as in the case of the medical and dental professions or as .is done by the American Bar Association in the case of the American Law Schools. If the Council or its Committee is of the view that the standards prescribed by a particular University in legal education are not adequate or that institutions established by it or affiliated to it for imparting legal education are not well equipped or properly run, it may decide to refuse admission of the graduates of that University to the professional examination till the University has taken steps to reach the minimum standards.
55. Course of professional training.-
It is necessary to add a few words on the subjects of study and the manner of instruction in the professional course which the law graduate will have to take for admission to the Bar. The procedural laws, the laws of evidence and limitation, company law, insolvency law, the court-fees and Suits Valuation Acts and certain important local laws must obviously form part of the syllabus. It is further essential that law graduates should be made to appreciate either by lectures or through text-books the responsibilities and ethics of the profession for which they are qualifying themselves. The absence of such instruction is, in a considerable measure, responsible for many entrants to the profession looking upon it as a mere trade and not as a profession with traditions and a code of conduct of its own. The element, however, of the largest single importance in the practical course is a knowledge of the art of drafting and conveyancing and of the practical working of the law courts.
56. Teaching and examination by Bar Councils.-
The task of imparting instruction in the procedural and other laws can be discharged by the Bar Councils by institution of a course of morning or evening lectures given at some suitable college or institution. The lecturers will have to be selected, no doubt, from legal practitioners. But care will have to be taken to select persons who would be able to devote time and attention not only to the preparation of their lectures but to the questions and difficulties which may be put to them by the pupils. We understand that some of the Bar Councils have already taken steps to impart instruction by institution of a series of lectures in the manner indicated above. Attendance at a specified number of these lectures will have to be made compulsory.
57. Practical (Reading in chamber and attendance in courts).-
The greater difficulty lies in arranging simultaneously with the lectures a suitable course of practical training for the students. Two methods have been suggested. The first is apprenticeship with a lawyer approved by the Bar Council. The second method is the requirement of attendance for a certain number of days in the High Court and other principal courts. We are of the view that, for obtaining the requisite practical knowledge; a combination of both these methods is necessary. We are conscious that the apprentice system has not worked satisfactorily in many places and that very frequently the senior lawyers (to whom the pupil is apprenticed) takes very little interest in the apprentice. Not infrequently the blame also lies on the apprentice who is interested merely in taking a certificate from the senior lawyer at the end of his apprenticeship.
58. Nature of the apprentice course.-
Whatever the difficulties in working this system, we feel that the young apprentice can learn the work of drafting pleadings and documents and have an idea of professional work generally, only by attendance in an experienced lawyer's chamber for a certain period of time. A limit will have to be assigned to the number of apprentices which the senior lawyer can, at a time, take as apprentices; and in order that the cost of reading in a chamber may not be prohibitive, the Bar Councils will have to prescribe a maximum fee to be paid by the pupil to the lawyer.
The apprentice who will be watching and keeping himself informed of the work of his senior will be present to watch his senior conducting cases and, if permitted, to assist him. In this manner, he will gather experience of the working of the law courts as well. The apprentice may be required to keep a diary of his daily work and attendance in courts and this diary may, from time to time, be signed by the senior lawyer. At the end of the term of apprenticeship there should be a certificate by the senior lawyer of the apprentice having read in his chambers for the prescribed period which, in our opinion, should not be less than one year.
59. Arrangement of lectures.-
The lectures organized by the Bar Council will naturally have to be held at the headquarters of the Bar Council. The pupil may very often belong to the mofussil in which case he will have to arrange to be in the principal town for the Bar Council lectures. He may, however, be apprentice to a senior lawyer on the approved list practising in the districts. We have been informed that a system combining lectures and apprenticeship is being worked in Madras by the Bar Council and that it causes no hardship to students from the mofussil. A note giving particulars of the working of the system in Madras is annexed at the end of the chapter.
60. Stiff professional examinations and high standards.-
The year's professional course should be followed by a stiff test. Where examinations are at present being held by the Bar Council, the tendency is to make the test almost a nominal one. The pupils pass it with very little preparation and the percentage of failures is very small. In our view, the examination at the end of the professional training should be a very strict test. Whereas very stiff tests are applied for admission to other professions like engineering and medicine, it has been customary to regard the legal profession as one which needs very little training.
Not an uncommon notion even among legal practitioners is that the lawyer will have plenty of opportunity of practical training after he has started practice. We have already dealt fully with this aspect of the matter and pointed out how these views are erroneous and unfounded. It should be the duty of the professional bodies that conduct these courses of instruction and examinations to see that the young man admitted to the profession is well-equipped and fully fit to do justice to the cases of his clients.