In a first-ever crackdown, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has derecognised 30 law colleges and issued show-cause notices to 20 others across the country for failing to meet minimum “academic standards”.
The Legal Education Committee of the BCI, the regulator for legal profession and education in the country, took the decision on the basis of reports submitted by its inspection teams. It has appealed to students that there is no cause for alarm, since the existing courses will not be disturbed and around 5,000 students pursuing law courses in these institutes will be allowed to complete their degrees.
“The teams looked at basic benchmarks — whether all posts of teaching faculty were filled up; did the teachers have basic qualifications; the building of the institutes and library facilities,” states the agenda of the two meetings in which the decision was taken.
Maharashtra and Karnataka lead the tally of colleges facing closure with 10 each, followed by three in Andhra Pradesh, two in UP and one each in Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
The committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice A.P. Misra has decided to carry out a review in all the 900 institutes providing legal education in the country on the above mentioned criteria.
“The inspections will be a continuing process. We want to bring down the number of mushrooming institutes providing legal education without proper infrastructure and teaching staff,” said professor V.B. Coutinho, chairman of the BCI’s Directorate of Legal Education.
Asked about the number of students to be affected by the action, Coutinho said the institutions found unfit to run three-year and five-year courses, would be allowed to complete the degrees of existing students.
“We are getting the figures for total number of students in the institutes under the scanner. It appears the number is around 5,000,” he said.
BCI chairman and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the students interests will not be harmed. “BCI will ensure that students once enrolled in law courses get to complete their education. If need be, we will ask concerned universities to adjust students in other recognised institutes.”
Subramanium said the reforms process in legal education has been initiated with basic standards.
The BCI is expected to introduce the system of annual recognition for institutes running law courses.