BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA: CREATING BARRIERS WITHIN THE LEGAL SYSTEM


INTRODUCTION

The legal community in India is one of the foremost remunerative and accumulative professions, with some over six million advocates active in this arena. The chief players providing service throughout this sector include individual lawyers and majorly family-run law firms. It's pertinent to note here that the right of an advocate to look at law is not a fundamental right however a statutory right; as it is ruled by the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961 and also the Bar Council of India Rules, 1975.

The BCI seeks to change the very structure of legal education among the country, all in a week. First, the BCI tried to induce the Judicial Service Examination minimum experience demand reinstated then abolished the annual LL.M. course, against that two years long and spread across four semesters is progressing to be introduced.

These decisions of the BCI have led to widespread concern and anxiety amongst the law fraternity, aspirants, and students. Particularly, as the changes that are being dropped at the judicial services aspirants, this decision continues to be sub judice and should go either way. The backlash generated because of these unforeseen and instant changes is to be expected per se decisions render the long run plans, aspirations, and career trajectories of countless students subject to the whim of BCI.


BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA – PRESS RELEASE

By a press release, an announcement was made that the Bar Council of India and All-State Bar Councils are powerfully in favour of 3-year minimum expertise at the Bar to be prescribed for being thought of eligible to sit down for a Judicial Service examination.

Most of the Judicial officers are found ill-mannered and impractical in their behaviour with the Members of the Bar and Litigants. They lack an understanding of the aspirations and expectations of Advocates and Litigants within the matter of proper and good behaviour. Trained and knowledgeable judicial officers can comprehend and get rid of matters at a way quicker pace, thereby resulting in inefficient administration of justice[1]


CHANGES TO THE JUDICIAL SERVICE EXAMINATION

The Judicial service examination in India isn't unified at the central level; every state conducts its examination to fill vacancies within the individual state with completely different criteria. Currently, there are no requirements except holding an LL.B. qualification from a BCI recognised university.

BCI expressed that it will file and implement an application against the recent civil judicial writ petition filed within the Supreme Court titled Regalagadda Venkatesh v. State of A.P.[2]challenging the notification issued by the Andhra Pradesh high court that created 3 years minimum practice as an advocate a condition for applying for the posts of civil judge junior division. BCI jointly declared that it will file an application before the apex court seeking to change this law that permits fresh law graduates to become judicial officers.

The requirement for a minimum of 3 years’ expertise was removed by the Supreme Court in 2002 in the landmark case of All India Judges Association v. Union of India[3] In this case, the Supreme Court reasoned that the 3 years mandate was serving as a hindrance to candidates who were getting interested in alternative opportunities, and also the judicial services were getting unheeded. They conjointly stipulated that the training period for the freshly inducted judges should otherwise be 2 years and may in no circumstance be less than a year. The Shetty Commission suggested the removal of the three-year mandate and the Supreme Court concurred, therefore reversing its judgement, as pronounced in the All-India Judges' case[4].

In its try at re-modeling the choice of the judiciary, the BCI has managed to spot the issues that plague the Indian judiciary but has fallen short with its reasoning for turning out with such an answer. The delay in disposal of cases will be attributed to the record low number of judges and courts that our country has per citizen. The benchmark as set by the Law Commission within the 120th Report of the Law Commission of India, were fifty judges per million people, however, India presently stands at a miserable nineteen judges per million.


CHANGES TO LLM MASTERS DEGREE

The BCI in an unprecedented move also set to extend the length of the Masters of Law (“LL.M.”), a course that remains a year course in most nations. The Bar Council of India Legal Education Rules, 2020 strives to scrap the 1-year LL.M. in India. The 1-year LL.M. program was introduced in India in 2013 (as per notification) by the University Grants Commission (“UGC”) and shall stay operative till the present academic term. These rules shall inherit force consistent with the date notified by the Bar Council.

The takeaway points from these rules are:

The Rules and their interpretation have created quite a steer of confusion and speculation within the legal fraternity. One amongst the interpretations for Rule No. 6 is that the Indian authorities can blatantly walk-off from recognising an LL.M. degree pursued from any Foreign University. Reading the other part, the authorities have incised out a path for a minority of students who want to have their 1-year LL.M. degree recognised by the Indian authorities.

These students have to fulfil the subsequent 3 specific perquisites i.e. firstly, the student, Indian or foreign, has pursued an LL.B. degree from a high accredited Foreign University; second, that student has additionally pursued a 1-year LL.M. degree and third, the graduate currently desires to practice in India post the completion of the LL.M. degree, and that he/she should complete a year of teaching expertise as a Visiting Faculty/internee college/clinical faculty at an Indian University together with its LL.M. degree. The practicality and utility of this Rule sure have the potential to discourage students although the category of such students is also slim. From the above, it will be understood that the legal fraternity has been left with a substantial amount of ambiguity. It's the sole hope that the authorities can see the dense fog of ambiguity it has caused and issue a clarification at the earliest to ease the concerns of these students who are within the midst of their application process for the academic session 2021-22.

All of those changes affect the unprivileged students the foremost as they need to earn and support their families. Alterations that increase their years of study, when college fee is reaching record highs and adding years to their unemployed standing will hardly be categorized as a decent plan. These decisions would additionally adversely affect the law community as people can like better to elect different courses that are maybe less tedious and cumbersome. The BCI should attempt to create finding out law ubiquitous and not attempt to whittle down at the already small law community.


CONCLUSION

The BCI's decisions relating to the obligatory three-year expertise for the judicial service examinations and the abolishing of the annual LL.M. program are eccentric, to mention the least. The BCI has the best interest of the aspiring lawyers and everyone related to it inside, however, these decisions aren't standalone options, they need the potential to have a ripple result that might affect the whole legal fraternity and consequently, the whole nation.

As far as the incapacity, lack of expertise, and ineptness is bothered, the judicial services academy must confirm that the candidates who begin their institutions are ready for the rigors of the judiciary. The judges will solely be nearly as good as their teachers, therefore if they're incompetent, it reflects poorly on our choice and grooming method. The method should not be made advanced by adding a lot of steps to discourage candidates, instead, it ought to be refined so a lot of law students apply. The three-year rule, if implemented, would hinder potential candidates from applying as they'd currently have other career alternatives out there at an earlier stage which is the last thing the BCI ought to attempt towards. Moreover, the BCI seems to have no locus standi here, the Supreme Court had already dominated on the matter after due deliberation and determined that it had been within the best interest of the legal fraternity if the mandate was withdrawn. Any shortcomings that the judges could have maybe a reflection of the sorry state of legal education in our country.


[1] https://images.assettype.com/barandbench/2021-01/95928fda-6777-4e1d-be8d-53b42b08b703/Press_Release_dated_02_01_2021.pdf [2] Writ Petition (civil) No.1479/2020 [3] AIR 2002 SC 1752 [4] [1993] 4 SCC 288

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