Engaged in a turf war over the control of legal education with the Ministry for Human Resources Development, the Law Ministry seems set to take away the powers of independent regulator — Bar Council of India (BCI) — also.
The proposed draft Higher Legal Education and Research Bill, 2010, prepared by the Law Ministry, provides for creation of a national commission to regulate legal education. Currently, BCI is the regulator for legal profession and education.
"It provides for the regulation of various aspects of higher legal education and research; grant of recognition to law schools, colleges and institutions imparting legal education and research," states the preamble of the draft bill.
The ministry drafted the bill to counter the HRD ministry's National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill, which seeks to include legal education under the ambit of a common regulator.
The provisions of the Law Ministry bill, show it seems to be preparing to edge out the BCI.
The proposed national commission will comprise a chairperson and six members to be appointed on the recommendation of a selection panel headed by the Prime Minister. Other members in the selection panel would be the Attorney General, Chief Justice of India or his nominee and the law minister.
There is no mention of any BCI representative either in the selection panel or the national commission.
The BCI is unlikely to accept the draft bill.
"It runs contrary to the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, which regulates legal education and profession," said a BCI functionary.
A law ministry official, however, said the draft bill is at consultation stage.
"All issues would be sorted out with the Bar Council. After all we provide funds for its functioning."