Overturning its earlier recommendation to put an age cap on candidates taking the law entrance exam, a state advisory committee for legal admissions has asked the government to not restrict aspirants on the basis of their age. Instead, the panel suggested, that the government wait for the outcome of multiple petitions filed in the Bombay high court challenging the age limit.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the committee members pointed out that the HC had last month stayed a circular prescribing different age limits for the three-year and the five-year law courses issued by the Bar Council of India (BCI), which regulates legal education. In doing so, the court allowed colleges to accept aspirants who were over 30 years of age.
The circular, which was issued in the middle of admission process last year, revived an old clause in Legal Practice Rules, 2008, prescribing an age limit of 30 years for the three-year law courses for general category students and 35 years for students belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes. It had also prescribed an age limit of 20 years (22 years for SC, STs and OBCs) for the five-year law course. The rule has been a subject of litigation, with various petitions opposing filed in HC and various other courts.
Despite the BCI directive, the state had decided to allow aspirants over the prescribed age to be admitted in law colleges. However, many such aspirants were turned away by the colleges.
The legal admission committee, in its December meeting, had recommended that the government implement all the norms laid down by BCI including the age limit for aspirants. However, with the HC staying the BCI directive, the committee has now advocated against enforcing the controversial rule.
“Since the age limit rule has been challenged in the HC, the committee has suggested waiting for the court’s final verdict on the matter. They have recommended carrying out admissions without the rule till then,” said an official from the state common entrance test (CET) cell. “The HC has put a stay on the BCI circular and we will have to abide by it,” said a member of the committee.