The Bombay High Court has redirected the Bar Council of India (BCI) to conduct an inspection of the premises for an all-women’s law college in Thane after the BCI failed to comply with the court’s earlier order dated January 22, 2018.
A bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Bharati Dangre had noted in November last year that the state government, as well as Mumbai University, had granted permission and affiliation for the women’s law college, respectively. Thereafter, the court permitted the petitioner, Bombay Public Trust, to participate in the third round of admissions and 60 students were admitted as a result. The court also expected the BCI to conduct the inspection as all the requisite permissions had been taken and noted the same in an order dated January 22, 2018.
However, BCI’s counsel Amit Sale submitted before the bench last month that the premises where petitioners have the law college currently is on leave and license basis expiring in December 2018. Thus, Sale justified BCI’s inaction and said:
“Under Rule 60(2) of the Bar Council of India Rules, the college-aspiring permission from Bar Council of India should either own its premises or if the premises is on leave and licence basis the same should be for a period of 10 years, the Bar Council of India did not find it necessary to comply with the orders passed by this Court on 22nd January 2018.”
Petitioner’s counsel Chaitanya Pendse submitted that alternate premises are being constructed 5-6 km away from the current premises and same should be completed in 2018 and students can be relocated then.
After hearing submissions from both parties, the court was not happy with the BCI’s approach and said:
“In this background, we find that the approach adopted by the Bar Council of India is totally hyper-technical. When the petitioner is intending of having a law college in Thane district which is only for women, rather than rendering a helping hand the Bar Council appears to be acting as a hindrance in establishment of the said college.
No doubt that Bar Council of India would have supremacy in the matter of legal education. However, at the same time it cannot totally ignore the permission and affiliation granted by the State Government and the University respectively. When the petitioner is willing to give an undertaking that the owned premises would be available by the end of 2018 and at present the leased premises are sufficient to cater to the needs of first-year students, we find that the approach of the Bar Council in not even agreeing to inspect the premises is not reasonable.”
Thus, the BCI was directed to inspect the said premises and submit its report. On May 2, Amit Sale informed the bench that inspection has been conducted and its report will be placed before the Education Committee of BCI.