In a relief to law colleges and students in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court has directed the completion of admission process to law colleges for this academic year within the stipulated time without the Bar Council of India’s consent or approval.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni passed these directions on April 20 in a PIL filed by one Vibhuti Amarnath Aggarwal.
The PIL raises questions about the BCI’s power to regulate and restrict admissions.
In a matter regarding conduct of admissions through the Common Admission Process, a bench headed by Justice SC Dharmadhikari asked the state to consult BCI in deciding the syllabi as well as other criteria as “it is a stakeholder in legal education”.
Following this judgment of the high court, the state government did consult the BCI on various aspects, including the age-related eligibility criteria as well as granting affiliation to colleges.
A letter dated February 22, 2016. was written by the Director of Higher Education issuing certain directions to law colleges regarding admissions to law courses in Maharashtra.
However, when the court directed the state government to file an affidavit taking a stand on Sections 7 (h) and (i) of the Advocates’ Act, 1961, the state government deemed the said provisions to mean that “the BCI has merely consultative and recommendatory role in matter of promotion of legal education and laying down standards of such education”.
The affidavit also stated that although the BCI has power to recognise a law degree given by a university and for that purpose, it can visit and inspect that particular university, but BCI has no role in regulating individual educational institutions directly.
In light of this stand taken by the state, the Director of Higher Education was directed to withdraw the letter.
Noting that the said letter has been withdrawn by the state government, the court observed: “There shall not be insistence of consent/approval of BCI for admission. The admission process must complete within the time schedule fixed by the University concerned.”
Read the Affidavit here.