The aspirants, however, cannot be assured as the Bar Council had earlier this week said the state could admit students irrespective of the age restriction but they will not be allowed to practice as lawyers.
The Maharashtra Government has decided to exempt this year’s law aspirants from age restrictions and go ahead with admissions as per the all-India Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).
Although the decision clears the air for law colleges that were issued strictures earlier this week; students have been knocked for a loop as the BCI stands firm to its ground that it will not allow law graduates beyond the prescribed age limit to register for practice.
Sitaram Kunte, Principal Secretary, Higher Education Department, said, “We have decided that this year’s admissions will be in accordance with CLAT. Moreover, our brochures for admissions had not specified any age limit and aspirants had applied accordingly. Since the Common Entrance Test is over and merit list declared, we have decided to do away with the age limit for this year’.
He said: “We will urge the BCI to exempt this year’s batch from the age limit as the admission process is already underway. An informed decision can be taken later for next year onwards after the legal complexity of Clause 28 of Rule 11 of the Standards of Legal Education (Rules) is resolved.”
The aspirants, however, cannot be assured whether they are afoot or on horseback with the confusing state of affair as the Bar Council had earlier this week said the state could admit students irrespective of the age restriction but they will not be allowed to practice as lawyers.
A standing committee member of the BCI said: “We will not allow anyone above the prescribed age limit to enroll with the BCI for practice. They can, however, take admission to gain knowledge.”
The matter has been fraught with controversy since 2008 when the BCI fixed the upper age limit at 20 years for the five-year course (22 for SC/ST) and 30 years for the three-year LLB course (35 for SC/ST) by inserting Clause 28 in the rules inscribed under the Advocates Act 1961. Later quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011, the BCI itself withdrew it in 2013 vide a resolution. The withdrawal was, however, challenged before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, which held that Clause 28 by the BCI was illegal.
The Bar Council later moved the apex court against the decision, which dismissed the special leave petition in November 2015. Pursuant to this, the Bar Council issued notification reviving Clause 28 and the age restrictions its entails.