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Bar Council turns down applications for 55 law colleges

January 20, 2020 05:26 AM

Bhadra Sinha


New Delhi : The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Saturday rejected applications by 55 colleges asking for recognition to start fresh law courses, a move seen as an attempt to restrict the number of institutions offering undergraduate legal studies courses.

The council’s decision came after its members held day-long deliberations on the applications BCI received between July and December 2019. The majority of the applications was from institutions in Uttar Pradesh. The BCI’s move could potentially spur a series of litigation, a senior member said.

According to the procedure, institutions approach the council for approval of affiliation after a state university grants it. Being the apex disciplinary body for lawyers, the BCI is also the regulator for legal education. “The procedure requires the college to first develop infrastructure and then apply to the state government’s higher education department for a no-objection [certificate]. Thereafter, the state university gives affiliation, which the BCI approves upon receiving an application from the college,” said the member cited above.

In all, the 55 cases colleges were accorded affiliation from the respective state university. “We are expecting the colleges to go to court but we are ready with our counter argument. There is no need for new colleges and the existing ones are sufficient to feed the legal system at present,” said BCI co-chairman Ved Prakash Sharma. BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra had chaired the meeting.

The BCI’s decision is part of its sustained efforts to improve the standards of existing law colleges since the body has recently come under severe criticism for approving institutions found to be flouting UGC (University Grants Commission) norms in terms of infrastructure and paying salaries to teachers.

In August 2019, the BCI imposed a moratorium on opening of new colleges, except National Law University, if it is proposed by a state government. At present there are 1,500 law colleges.

Last month the BCI issued stringent directives to existing institutions on payment of salaries to professors and warned of derecognition if they failed to comply with UGC guidelines meant for hiring teachers. The BCI’s legal education committee has already issued notices to Calcutta and Rajasthan universities on the issue. Also, the colleges were asked to submit a quarterly bank statement to the BCI as evidence to show salaries were released to teachers in accordance with UGC rules. Instructions were also issued against employing temporary teachers.

Supreme Court advocate Gyanant Singh lauded the BCI’s efforts to make colleges more accountable and also the move to stop opening of new colleges. “In the last few years many private colleges have opened up, lacking in basic infrastructure such as a library. They charge exorbitant fees but do not impart quality education to students who are found wanting in legal skills when they join the profession,” Singh said.

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