High Court Reads Down Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar University's Ph.D. Admission Rule Which Mandated Two-Year LLM Degrees For Applicants

Upasana Sajeev

13 March 2024 3:30 AM GMT

  • High Court Reads Down Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Universitys Ph.D. Admission Rule Which Mandated Two-Year LLM Degrees For Applicants

    The Madras High Court has read down Regulation 3.1 of the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University Ph.D. Regulations 2020, which prescribed the possession of a 2-year Master's Degree in law as the eligibility criteria for admission to the University's Full-Time Ph.D. program. The bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy observed that the University was...

    The Madras High Court has read down Regulation 3.1 of the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University Ph.D. Regulations 2020, which prescribed the possession of a 2-year Master's Degree in law as the eligibility criteria for admission to the University's Full-Time Ph.D. program.

    The bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy observed that the University was bound by the University Grants Regulation (UGC) which had recognized the 1 year LLM program and the University could not knock off any qualification from eligibility. The court added that prescribing higher standards should only be in addition to the existing qualification and not in derogation of it.

    “If the 1 st respondent wants to prescribe higher standards that would mean greater standards in the qualifications of 10+2+5( or 3+3) +1 (or +2), such as having 60% etc., and would not mean knocking off any or all of the qualifications from eligibility. Thus, the rule does not prescribe greater qualification, as the two year LLM is not a higher qualification than the one year LLM as both get the same degrees. Prescribing higher standards would be in 'addition to' and not in 'derogation to'. It can be supplementing and not supplanting,” the court said.

    The court was hearing a plea filed by one Suganya Jeba Sarojini who had completed a one-year LLM program from Amity Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Amity University but was unable to apply for the Ph.D. Research Program under the TN Ambedkar University as it mandated the candidates to have a 2-year LLM Degree.

    Suganya argued that the One-year LLM Program was recognized by the Bar Council of India Legal Education (Post Graduate, Doctoral, Executive, Occasional, Clinical, and other Continuing Education) Rules, 2020. Thus, she pointed out that the University's rules were arbitrary and ultra vires.

    The University resisted the plea and submitted that the One-year and Two-Year LLM Programs were not equal. The University further argued that the UGC Regulation permitted the One-year LLM Program only as an option and not mandatory. It was further submitted that the Bar Council of India Regulations made it clear that a one-year LLM degree would be operational only for a temporary period. Thus, the University argued that the present rules were framed after proper approval from the syndicate and the Governor-Chancellor and as per the UGC and BCI Guidelines.

    The court, however, disagreed with the view taken by the University. It noted that the regulations have not come into force to date and even as per the regulations, the One Year LLM program was valid till notification by the Bar Council which did not exist at the time when the petitioner had completed her course. The court added that in the absence of any Bar Council Regulation to the contrary, the University had to abide by the standards of eligibility fixed by the UGC.

    The court also noted that when there was no dispute regarding the fact that One Year LLM was a valid qualification, the university could not rely on the Government's service rules and mandate Two Year LLM.

    The court was also not ready to accept the University's contention that it was within the University's right to prescribe higher qualifications. The court noted that when the UGC had already recognized One Year LLM, the University could not knock off the existing qualification. The court added that if the university wished to prescribe higher qualifications, it would mean greater standards in the qualifications such as having 60% etc.

    The court further added that by mandating that it will admit candidates with only 2 years LLM, the university would be impinging upon the jurisdiction of the UGC which would be ultra vires.

    Considering that the fallacy was severable and that the regulation was workable in the absence of the mandate, the court read down the regulation and directed the University to admit the petitioner into the Ph.D. program.

    Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.M.Nirmal Kumar

    Counsel for the Respondent: Dr.Thiyagarajan, Senior Counsel for Mr.M.Nallathambi for R1 Mr.P.R.Gopinathan for R2

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (Mad) 105

    Case Title: Suganya Jebi Sarojini v The Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University

    Case No: Writ Petition No.12063 of 2021

    Click here to read/download the judgment

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