Bar Council issues show-cause notice to Calcutta University
New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued a show-cause notice to Calcutta University, Kolkata, after its law department was found to be flouting several rules, including one requiring it to have permanent faculty members to teach law.
In a related development, a two-member panel of the BCI also proposed withdrawal of Rajasthan University’s power to grant affiliation to law colleges after it was found to be skirting rules and procedures o be followed in permitting institutions to teach law, a move seen as an attempt by the regulator to make universities more accountable.
BCI’s legal education committee (LEC) of 10 members, headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice AP Mishra, issued the notice on December 21 to Calcutta University that also seeks an explanation from the university’s law department for not complying with the statutory rules, which makes it mandatory for a law college to invest every year in its library, hold moot courts, upgrade infrastructure and have a functional legal aid clinic.
BCI is not just a disciplinary body for lawyers but is also the regulator for legal education. The LEC noted how the law department was functioning without regular teachers and “has only four permanent faculty members.” Remaining faculty members teach on a part-time basis and are paid Rs 500 per lecture.
Having temporary teachers is a violation of the rule that makes it mandatory for law colleges to appoint regular teachers in accordance with the student-teacher ratio, which is 1:40, the committee held. The teachers need to be paid in line with the University Grants Commission scale.
“Show cause notice is given separately to the University whose degree is being granted in violation of statutory rule of the Bar Council of India,” read BCI’s resolution. Both college and university have been given six weeks to respond, failing which the BCI will consider derecognizing the department.
“Calcutta University is a premiere institution and its law department has produced some of the best legal brains. However, we cannot allow the department to function if it continues to violate the rules blatantly,” a BCI member said on condition of anonymity.
Sonali CHakravarti Banerjee, vice-chancellor of the University, declined to share her views on the BCI notice or comment on not having adequate teaching staff in the law department. “I am not aware of this,” she told HT.
On Rajasthan University, a two-member panel of the BCI --comprising the council’s co-chairman Ved Sharma and Indian Law Institute director, Professor Manoj Sinha - has in its report to LEC indicted the University for granting affiliation prospectively.
“The standing committee has taken a very serious note of the fact that Rajasthan University has not been giving affiliation at the appropriate time and usually it is only after start of the academic session that the affiliation is give by the University,” read the panel’s report, reviewed by HT.
The university’s approach is in violation of BCI rules under which affiliation should be granted to a college at least six months before the start of the next academic session. “The report has been placed before the LEC for its approval, following which a show-cause notice will be issued,” said the BCI member cited above.
A senior official of Rajasthan University, on condition of anonymity, said the office was yet to receive a formal communication from BCI on the issue. “We cannot comment until we read the report,” the official said.