23 Oct 2023 3:30 AM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has refused to quash the notification that barred candidates with an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) qualification from appearing for LAWCET (State Law Common Entrance Test).The Division Bench of Justice U.Durga Prasad Rao and Justice Venkata Jyothirmai Pratapa held that it would not interfere with a policy decision, taken by an expert body when no rights...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has refused to quash the notification that barred candidates with an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) qualification from appearing for LAWCET (State Law Common Entrance Test).
The Division Bench of Justice U.Durga Prasad Rao and Justice Venkata Jyothirmai Pratapa held that it would not interfere with a policy decision, taken by an expert body when no rights were infringed, whether statutory or Constitutional.
"In this scenario, as has been held in various decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court, this Court cannot substitute or supplant its views to that of expert bodies in academic or technical matters and declare equivalency. If any other approach is taken by the Court, it would open floodgate of litigation in these technical matters Ultimately wiping away the intendment of expert bodies."
It added that the notification barring the candidates was issued by the Bar Council of India, a competent Authority and specialists in the field, and the Court chose to refrain from interfering with a conclusion arrived at by an expert body.
"In that view, this Court neither sits on appeal as to the decision of the concerned expert Educational Committee nor predicate the equivalences of various courses to corresponding other courses which amounts to a bull in a China’s shop or unwarranted intrusion into unknown domains."
Three candidates had approached the Court claiming that despite having appeared for LAWCET, cleared it, gotten provisionally allotted to a college, and paid the admission fee, their admission was not confirmed due to the notification issued on 10.05.22, by the Convener of LAWCET/A.P.PGLCET 2022, that barred candidates who had ITI qualifications.
The petitioners sought to quash this restriction, claiming that it was ultra vires to Rule 5 of the Rules of Legal Education, 2008. They also requested a direction for admission into the LL.B. 3 Years Course and the LL.B. 5 Years Course for the academic year 2022-2023.
The petitioners argued that this disqualification was introduced for the first time in 2022 and was contrary to the existing legal education rules. They also cited decisions from the Madras and Karnataka High Courts where ITI qualifications were accepted as equivalent to other qualifications for admission to law courses.
On the other hand, the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education submitted that the BCI mandates a 10+2 qualification from a state-recognised board for admission into the 3/5 year courses. Further, since ITI qualifications are not members of COBSE, it was obvious that the petitioner would not fulfil the eligibility criteria.
Additionally, the User Manual and Instruction Booklet of the A.P.LAWCET 2022, clearly indicates that candidates with ITI qualifications would not be considered, yet the petitioners submitted the wrong information and appeared for LAWCET.
The Convener of A.P.LAWCET- 2022 has submitted that ITI provides Industry Related Education which cannot be considered equivalent to 10+2 qualification. It was also contended that the allotment order of LAWCET was provisional and would only become final after due verifications.
The BCI submitted that the 2008 rules were framed in order to maintain a standard of Legal Education. BCI stated that Rule 5 of the 2008 rules mandates a 10+2+3 qualification for admission into the 3-year course and 10+2 for admission into a 5-year course and contended that ITI could not be considered a +2 education.
The bench agreed that since ITIs were held not to be part of the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) by the Bar Council of India, such qualification could not be considered equivalent to general intermediate courses.
Justice U. Durga Prasad relied on Tata Cellular v. Union of India and held that the power of judicial review can only be exercised when a policy decision is violative of constitutional or statutory rights.
"I would like to emphasize the point that the time tested principles including Wednesbury’s principles exhort that the constitutional courts will be at loath to indulge in the policy decisions of the executive except when involved i/n constitutional and statutory violations and unreasonableness in implementation of such policies."
The Bar Council of AP addressed a letter in March 2023 to the Secretary, Board of Intermediate Education, A.P.
The reply of the Secretary clarified that a general intermediate course would only be one, where the qualifying certificate was issued by the COBSE. Further since the petitioners passed the All India Trade Test for Craftsman Training scheme Course from the Department of Employment and Training, Andhra Pradesh, it could not be considered as a regular intermediate course.
The Court after relying on a plethora of judgements, considering the rules and the letter addressed to the Secretary held that a Court cannot substitute or supplement its views to that of an expert body. The Bench also observed that since rule 5 of the 2008 Rules was not under challenge, no remedy could be awarded.
While dismissing the writs, the Court ordered:
"Testing on the anvil of the above jurisprudence, it must be said that on the letter addressed by the Bar Council of A.P. at the instance of the Bar Council of India, the Secretary, Board of Intermediate Education, A.P. has pellucidly stated that the candidate passed in All India Trade Test for Craftsmen Training course from Department of Employment and Training, A.P., which is not a member of Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) and thereby the enclosed certificate was not equivalent to general intermediate course offered by the Board of Intermediate Education, A.P."
Case Title: Sankella Rambabu vs State of AP and batch
Counsel for petitioners: P. Venkata Mohan Rao, Basha Shaik
Counsel for Respondents: G.P. for Higher Education. M. Manikya Veena, K.V.L. Narasimha Rao, Maheswara Rao Kunchem, Dasari S.V.V.S.V. Prasad and S. Parineeta.
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