On Friday, the Madras High Court urged the Bar Council of India to take a more serious view of law graduates’ quality and legal education.
Hon’ble Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee remarked that such a fall in standards means that it was no longer respectful to introduce oneself as a judge or lawyer anymore.
These comments were passed when the Division Bench Hon’ble Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice R Subbiah were hearing a plea filed last year against some distance learning courses in law offered by Annamalai University, wherein the Court took note of mushrooming of law colleges, lack of qualified teachers and the decline in legal education standards.
The Bench orally observed that the quality of new law graduates was not desirable. It was further observed that more than 3 lakh lawyers are graduating every year and asked the BCI if there were enough qualified teachers to impart quality education to these lawyers.
Advocate SR Raghunath who appeared for BCI, informed the Court that the BCI was taking steps to tackle the issue. He further stated that BCI had earlier placed a moratorium on opening up new law colleges. Still, due to the intervention of various high courts, BCI was forced to approve new law colleges.
The Bench observed that the issue was not state-level or local and noted that even if a State has legal education standards, a person can obtain inferior legal education from a different State then enrol in the STate of his/her choice.
Advocate Raghunathan agreed with the Bench’s view and stated that he would communicate the Court’s concern to the BCI.
Therefore, the Bench adjourned the case by three weeks and clarified that its earlier stay order issued in September will continue in the meantime.
The instant case is related to Annamalai University offering courses LLB (Academic and LLB (General) through Distance learning mode. The course was challenged on the ground that the BCI did not authorise it.
Earlier, the Court had recorded BCI’s statement that it had not recognised the said courses, and without recognition, no legal education can be imparted.
However, Annamalai University had submitted that it could impart the course for educational purposes and not for enrollment as an Advocate.
UGC is expected to file its reply when the Court takes up the case after three weeks.