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Karnataka HC Issues Notice On Law Students' Plea To Do Away With Moot Courts, Internships Amid COVID19

Mustafa Plumber
24 Jun 2020 3:37 AM GMT
Karnataka HC Issues Notice On Law Students Plea To Do Away With Moot Courts, Internships Amid COVID19
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The Karnataka High Court on Monday issued notice to the Bar Council of India and other respondents on the plea filed by two law students, seeking directions to dispense the mandatory regulations for all final year students of Five Year Law Course, to engage themselves in moot courts, internships, pre-trial preparation etx, for the academic year 2019-20.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy issued the notice returnable on July 9.

The petitioners Gautham R and Krishnamurthy T K are students of University law college, Bangalore pursuing 5 years integrated BA LLB course.

The petition states that Schedule II of Part IV of the Bar Council of India Rules outlines the academic standards and courses a legal institution needs to impart in the course of legal education. Part II (B) under Entry 6 of Schedule II of the Rules of Legal Education (Part IV of Bar Council of India Rules) provides for "Compulsory Clinical Courses" which must be conducted by the respective Universities/Institutions.

Under the said Entry 6, Paper 24 pertains to "Moot Court Exercise and Internship" which reads as follows:

Moot court exercise and Internship: This paper may have three components of 30 marks each and a viva for: 10 marks.

(a) Moot Court (30 Marks). Every student may be required to do at least three moot courts in a year with 10 marks for each. The moot court work will be on assigned problem and it will be evaluated for 5 marks for written submissions and 5 marks for oral advocacy.

(b) Observance of Trial in two cases, one Civil and one Criminal (30 marks):

Students may be required to attend two trials in the course of the last two or three years of LLB. studies. They will maintain a record and enter the various steps observed during their attendance on different days in the court assignment. This scheme will carry 30 marks.

(c) Interviewing techniques and Pre-trial preparations and Internship diary (30 marks): Each student will observe two interviewing sessions of clients at the Lawyer's Office/ Legal Aid Office and record the proceedings in a diary, which will carry 15 marks. Each student will further observe the preparation of documents and court papers by the Advocate and the procedure for the filing of the suit/petition. This will be recorded in the diary, which will carry 15 marks.

(d) The fourth component of this paper will be Viva Voce examination on all the above three aspects. This will carry 10 marks."

On account of the impending COVID-19 pandemic various rules, regulations and Standard Operating Procedures have been framed by both the Central Government as well as the respective State Governments for the welfare of the citizens. The High Court as well has laid down certain Standard Operating Procedures for the regular functioning and operation of the Courts wherein it has been categorically laid down that the entry of Advocates' clerks, litigants as well as any other third parties have been strictly prohibited into the premises of the courts, sans permission.

It is contended that it would be impossible for the students of final year of law to enter the court premises and observe the court proceedings or  to observe interviewing sessions of clients at a Lawyer's Office/Legal Aid Office for the purpose of completion of the course criteria/mandate as enumerated under clauses (b) and (c) of Paper 24 (Moot Court Exercises and Internship).

The Law Chambers/Firms of Advocates are also reluctant to encourage students from law schools to intern at their offices keeping in mind the principles of social distancing. The indifference and apathy at the hands of the respondents is likely to vex the mobility of the students en masse. That the rights of students to mobility in life pursuing law course. That the stipulations may act as an impediment and lead to indefinite delay to graduation of final year law students.

The plea prays for direction to respondents to dispense with clause (b) and (c) of Paper 24 under Schedule II of Part IV of Bar Council of India Rules ("Rules of Legal Education") for the academic year 2019-2020. Direct the respondent to formulate detailed guidelines regarding compensating clause (b) and (c) vide online, non physical mode of examination / assessment in an effective and time bound manner.

Further, direct the respondent No.3 (Bangalore University) to dispense with the regulations governing the integrated five (5) years B.A, L.L.B. course wherein it is mandatory for all the final year students of Five Year Law Course to engage themselves in Pre-Trial Preparation and Participation in Trial Proceedings for which they are assessed to the tune of 60 marks in their final semester. 

Click Here To Download Petition

[Read Petition]

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