Seeking LL.M Degree and Enrolment as Advocates for Recruitment of Pre-Law Assistant Teachers Illegal: Madras HC
High Court of Madras hearing a batch of writ petitions in the case of V. Lekha Vs the Chairman1, UGC — W.P. No. 19534/2018 quashed the notification, seeking LLM degree and enrolment as advocates, issued by the Teacher’s Recruitment Board in 2018 on recruitment of Assistant Professors (Pre-Law) in Government Law Colleges in Tamil Nadu for the year 2017-18 and deemed it illegal and irrational.
A two-judge bench consisting of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice V. Parthiban stated:
“…. the qualifications, viz., M.L., degree and enrolment as advocate, as prescribed in the impugned Notifications, in addition to the postgraduate degree in the relevant subject for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor for pre law course in the Government Law Colleges in the State of Tamil Nadu are declared as illegal, as the same suffer from patent irrationality, unreasonableness and arbitrariness.”
According to the impugned notification, only candidates enrolled as advocates and possessing a Master’s degree in law (ML degree), in addition to the primary qualifications i.e., Postgraduate degree in the relevant subject and passing the National Eligibility Test (NET) were qualified for appointment as assistant professors for pre-law courses in Government Law Colleges.
The petitioners challenging the above notification averred that the mandated qualifications apart from a postgraduate degree in the relevant subject and NET qualification were non-essential for recruitment as Assistant Professors (Pre-Law). Master’s Degree in Law and enrolment as an advocate added absolutely no value to their post and was an illogical step that no other colleges or universities, within the state of Tamil Nadu or the entire nation had ever taken.
The Court admitted the argument of the petitioners and asserted:
“When a candidate is to be appointed to teach pre-law courses, the stress must be that the person selected to teach a particular subject must be intellectually equipped to handle classes for the students in the subject of specialisation of the candidate concerned, in terms of his/her post graduate degree. Requiring more qualifications, not connected to the main qualification in the finer discharge of duties, the teacher concerned would inevitably be a person of mediocre knowledge not excelling in the relevant subject or in law, either.”
On the subject of enrolment as an advocate, the court remarked:
“This Court is also at a loss to understand and perplexed that more than prescription of M.L., degree, the insistence of enrolment as advocate. How far enrolment as advocate is going to be of any academic use in the discharge of duties by the Assistant Professor, is a conundrum, as no definite or plausible answers are to be found.”
Additionally, the court pointed out the lack of clarity in the notification concerning degrees obtained through the Distance Education mode and cross major degrees. The Court also commented, for the sake of improving standards of legal education, people who obtained degrees through Distance Education mode and with cross major degrees must not be declared to be qualified.
In conclusion, the Court struck down the notification issued by the Teacher’s Recruitment Board in 2018 and held that emphasis should be placed on whether the person is intellectually equipped and not on the non-essential degrees, which are of no importance to the role of an assistant professor (pre-law).
Nidhi Nair | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL