Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed Bar Council of India’s three-year moratorium on the opening of New Law Colleges in the country.
The Court held that the moratorium does not stand the test of Judiciary, and it violated Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution.
Hon’ble Justice Rekha Mittal passed the aforesaid order on a petition filed by Chandigarh Educational Society, which sought BCI’s approval for opening Chandigarh Law College in Jhanjeri from 2020-2021.
BCI refused to process the application citing the three-year moratorium for grant of approval to new law colleges. Aggrieved by the order, the Society moved the High Court.
Before the Court, the Society submitted that the BCI demanded deposit money when the application was made, but it still declined to process it.
Learned Counsel for BCI submitted that the moratorium was imposed because new law colleges are mushrooming across the country and that they were not maintaining applicable standards for legal education.
Issue before the Court
The main issue before the Court was whether the three-year moratorium imposed by the BCI was legally permissible.
Observations made by the High Court
The Court opined that the BCI could issue circulars/ guidelines etc. and press for compliance of the said guidelines etc. Still, it imposed a ban on opening of law colleges and further remarked that Learned Counsel for BCI has failed to make arguments to justify the moratorium imposed by the BCI.
Hon’ble Court also looked into Functions of the BCI as mentioned u/s seven of Advocates Act and found that the BCI does not have the power to impose a complete ban on opening new law colleges.
Hon’ble Justice Mittal noted that BCI failed to point out any instance where a law college was shut for adherence to prescribed standards.
Further, before parting with the Order, the Court observed that new lawyers entering in the legal profession are not upto the mark in drafting petitions and assisting the court. In fact some of the new lawyers are not confident enough to speak in court.
Moratorium period was set aside by the Court, and the BCI was directed to consider the SOciety’s application within three months.
Lastly, the Court directed the BCI to check new law graduates’ standards and opined that new entrants were not up to the mark.
Hon’ble Justice Mittal suggested that BCI should impart practical training to law graduates and suggested that a nodal agency may be formed to check the compliance of BCI guidelines related to legal education.
Title: Chandigarh Educational Society vs Bar Council of India and others
Case No: CWP No. 7441 of 2020 (O&M)
Date of Order: 04.12.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Rekha Mittal