Regulating Indian Legal Education: Some Thoughts for Reform
24 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2010
Date Written: January 1, 2010
This note (prepared in response to a request from a Supreme Court Committee) begins by analysing the constitutional and regulatory framework pertaining to legal education in India with special emphasis on the two principal authorities in this sphere: The BCI and the UGC. It then goes on to describe ambiguities and criticism regarding the ambit of the BCI’s powers, and accreditation mechanisms in higher education in a few other countries.
It then goes on to recommend reforms, most of which can be effectuated within the corners of the existing regulatory framework, without the need for statutory reform. Others may require statutory amendments.
The principal recommendations made in this note are as follows:
i) Indian legal education ought to encompass much more than merely training students for the bar. Indeed, the aim ought to be to create an effective social engineer who is socially sensitive and uses the law in myriad ways to help better society.
ii) The Bar Council of India (BCI) has no legal/constitutional authority to regulate the full spectrum of legal education, independent of the Universities. In fact, Section 7(1)(h) of the Advocates Act clearly mentions that the BCI is to lay down standards of legal education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils.
iii) An all-India Bar Entrance Examination should be introduced as a quality-control mechanism, instead of the existing accreditation system which is patently flawed, ineffective, costly and subject to abuse. It will not only ensure a qualitative check on the number of lawyers entering the Bar, but would also give the Bar Council scope to regulate legal education in a more robust manner.
iv) As a more substantive policy measure, we recommend a more thorough overhaul of the present regulatory structure pertaining to legal education in India. The BCI powers should only extend to regulating that aspect of legal education that is intrinsically connected with the practice of law at the Bar. Some of the regulatory functions that are presently being performed by the BCI, and which do not relate directly to practice at the Bar should be devolved to another authority. This authority should ideally be a standing committee on legal education under the IRAHE as proposed by the NKC.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation