Establishing New Law College: BCI Considering Appointment of Committee for Drafting Moratorium Rules
16th June 2021, the Bar Council of India (BCI) in a Press Release dated 16.06.2021 declared its inclination towards appointing a Committee for the drafting of Rules for a moratorium on the opening of New Law Colleges/Centers of Legal Education. The Rules so drafted are to be placed before the Legal Education Committee, having statutory sanction under section 10(2)(b) of the Advocates Act, 1961. This development comes in the backdrop of the Punjab and Haryana High court judgment dated 04.12.2020, which set aside the resolution of BCI dated 11.08.2019 prescribing a moratorium of three years on the establishment of new law colleges.
The BCI observed that State Governments were granting ‘No Objection Certificates (NOC)’ in a very casual manner, without due consideration of demand/population of the area. Also, Universities were granting affiliation to law colleges without conducting a thorough inspection. To prevent the mushrooming growth of law colleges and to maintain and improve standards of legal education, the BCI had passed the resolution applying moratorium dated 11.08.2019.
Stages for acquiring affiliation for a new Law College/ Center of Legal Education:
- The State government, under whose jurisdiction the college is proposed to be established, issues a ‘No Objection Certificate’
- Law college approaches the University for affiliation. University grants the affiliation to run a particular law degree course after inspection of infrastructure and faculty.
- BCI considers whether to grant or decline approval already granted by the University.
BCI noted that as it comes into the picture only at the third stage, this procedure forms a handicap on BCI in controlling the grant of affiliation.
Developments prior to imposing of Moratorium dated 11.08.2019:
In the year 2016, BCI had decided to stop the approval of new law colleges. It had requested State governments not to issue NOCs to any new law college for at least two years. Similarly, Universities were also requested not to grant affiliation to new law colleges and to focus on improving the standards of existing Institutions. Despite such requests, more than 300 NOCs were issued and affiliations were granted by Universities during this period. It is also pertinent to note that when the BCI refused to grant affiliation, Institutions approached various High Courts for relief wherein High Courts issued directions to BCI to consider the proposals of new law colleges.
Legal contest of resolution dated 11.08.2019 imposing Moratorium:
The BCI resolution dated 11.08.2019 was challenged in a Civil Writ Petition before the Punjab and Chandigarh High Court. The Court set aside the Moratorium by the judgment order dated 04.12.2020, holding it contravening to Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. Thereafter, BCI filed Letter Patents Appeal (LPA) against the order.
BCI deemed it would be advisable to institute a Committee to draft the Rules of Moratorium which would be further placed before the Legal Education Committee for passing, owing to its statutory sanction under section 10 (2) (b) of the Advocates Act, 1961. Similar observations were made by the Court in its order, and therefore the BCI decided to withdraw its LPA.
Therefore, the Moratorium imposed on 11.08.2019 that continued for two years, now stands quashed.
Recommendations of BCI:
- The BCI has resolved to perform surprise visits of Colleges/Centers of Legal Education. Currently, such activity is unviable in the prevailing pandemic where Institutions are closed.
- State governments are requested to be very diligent in granting NOC, and consider population ratio and whether the institute is needed at the designated place.
- Universities are requested to carry out scrutiny and inspection of Institutions scrupulously before granting affiliation, otherwise, BCI would seriously consider derecognition of degrees issued by such universities.
- Law Teachers to be allowed to teach at Law Colleges after acquiring proper training.
- The release also brings to light that in 80 percent of Government Institutions, more than 50 percent of seats of teachers are vacant. State governments and State-owned Universities are requested to fill up the vacancies of teachers within a period of three months.
Note: EduLegaL will check for developments and continue to update this blog post.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL