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Adopt Alternative Measures In Place of Mandatory Internship For Law Students: Kerala HC Directs MG University Amidst COVID

Hannah M Varghese
2 July 2021 5:41 AM GMT
Adopt Alternative Measures In Place of Mandatory Internship For Law Students: Kerala HC Directs MG University Amidst COVID
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The Kerala High Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition seeking relaxation of compulsory internships for law students, directed the MG University to adopt alternative measures to satisfy the requirements of the course within three weeks. Disposing the writ petition, Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar observed that the University should 'adopt appropriate other measures which it may feel adequate...

The Kerala High Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition seeking relaxation of compulsory internships for law students, directed the MG University to adopt alternative measures to satisfy the requirements of the course within three weeks.

Disposing the writ petition, Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar observed that the University should 'adopt appropriate other measures which it may feel adequate to satisfy the requirements of the course in the place of the period of internship not undergone by the petitioners and others who have been admitted for the Five Year integrated Law Degree course during the academic year 2016 – 2017.'

The petitioners were final year students of a Five Year integrated B.com. LLB (Hons) in the Government Law College, Ernakulam. As per Rule 25, Schedule III to the Rules of the Legal Education, each student was to complete a minimum of 20 weeks internship during the period of legal studies.

Advocate Amrin Fathima, representing the petitioners, stated that they could only complete 12 weeks internship during their course as none of the institutions permitted internship during the last two years due to Covid outbreak.

With their course due to end this academic year, the petitioners submitted that they will not be able to complete the remaining internship period before culmination of the course since they will have online classes before the pending semester examinations.

Accordingly, it was alleged that if the term of internship in the Rules is not relaxed, they would not be able to complete their course.

Standing Counsel for Bar Council of India, Advocate Rajit filed a statement indicating that the grievance voiced by the petitioners was genuine and the University was free to adopt any other appropriate measures which they may feel adequate to satisfy the requirements of the course.

However, Standing Counsel for the University, Advocate Ashok Cherian argued that as long as the Rules of Legal Education framed by the BCI remained intact, the University will not adopt any other method to satisfy the requirements of the course.

Justice P.B Suresh Kumar observed that in the light of the said Rules, it is mandatory for the petitioners to undergo internship for 20 weeks. However, the fact that it is impossible for them to complete this period before the culmination of their course was not disputed either by the BCI or by the University.

The question that arose before the Bench for consideration was whether the University was justified in taking the aforesaid stand.

The Court noted that the said Rules framed by the BCI were 'only suggestive of the ways and means to promote legal education and it is for the universities to make appropriate regulations prescribing the curriculum for the course, having regard to the standards prescribed by the Bar Council of India.'

Therefore, it was observed that these Rules cannot stand in the way of the University making appropriate changes in the curriculum in contingencies of the instant nature, especially when BCI itself had permitted the University to do so.

Moreover, the Single Bench pronounced that since the law does not contemplate a vacuum, doctrine of necessity is applicable over such situations. Accordingly, certain things can be done as a matter of necessity which would not otherwise countenance on the touchstone of judicial propriety.

The Court explained that if the doctrine was not pressed into service in such situations of difficulty, there would be obstruction to the course of justice. Consequently, it was held that the doctrine of necessity similarly confers authority on the University to adopt the course suggested by the BCI so as to enable the petitioners to complete their course.

The MG University thereby was directed to find an appropriate alternative to the mandatory internship for the petitioners within three weeks.

Title: Jomol John & Ors vs. Bar Council of India

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