The Supreme Court directed all the universities on Wednesday to verify educational certificates of law degree holders without charging a fee from the Bar Council of India (BCI) or state bar councils.
A bench headed by Justice PC Ghose gave the order after senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the BCI – the apex disciplinary body for lawyers – drew the court’s attention that the body cannot bear the cost burden of paying universities.
The lawyer said the charges vary anywhere between Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 and the BCI would have to pay Rs 60 crore to meet the universities’ demand.
But the bench clarified the order was interim in nature and a final direction would be issued once the petitions challenging the BCI’s rule making verification mandatory is decided. The court fixed March 21 to hear them.
Verification of degrees is taking place subsequent to a BCI rule that makes it incumbent on state bar councils to cross-check the validity of documents of registered advocates. In case the certificates are declared fake or forged, the lawyer would lose his or her licence.
The top court has already accepted the BCI’s submission that elections to various state bar councils should not be held until the fake law degree holders are weeded out. The BCI has said there has been a growing menace of fake degree holders being enrolled as advocates.