Thursday, May 30, 2024

3-year law degree: PIL in Supreme Court seeks direction to Centre, Bar Council

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking direction to the Centre and the Bar Council of India to establish an expert committee to ensure the feasibility of 3 years law degree after Class 12 on the lines of Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Art courses.

The petitioner, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in his plea stated that the students can study 15-20 subjects in three years, which is six semesters. It mentioned that the present 5 years degree course is unreasonable and that the inordinate duration is arbitrary, irrational and hence violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. 

The plea also sought directions to the Centre, Bar Council of India and Consortium of the National Law Universities to prepare a detailed roadmap to attract the best talent in the legal field in order to ensure fair trial and to secure right to speedy justice guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. It also urged the Supreme Court to pass an order or direction in the interest of the legal profession and in the interest of justice.

The plea reasoned that the duration of the course is not necessary to get a Bachelor degree and the prolonged period of 5 years is not suitable for students. The petition added that the 5 years is not proportional to study Law and that it puts excessive financial burden on the students to complete such a lengthy degree. 

The petitioner underlined that if there had been less time of 3 years for finishing the bachelor degree, the student could have got 2 undisturbed years to obtain practical knowledge in court or law firm or to pursue Master degree or to prepare for judicial exam.

The petitioner also contended that if a person can become a legend of the bar by starting their law career in just 17 years, then why should the youth waste 2 additional years of their life in the 5 years integrated course and not start their career from a young age of 20-21 years? The plea also mentioned that former law minister Ram Jethmalani, completed his law degree at the age of 17 years and started his law firm at the age of 18 years. The plea also gave the example of eminent jurist and former Attorney general Fali Nariman who completed law at the age of 21 years. 

The plea alleged that the long duration of a law course has been framed under the pressure of college management so as to make the most amount of money they could from the course. The petition underscored that the course fee of private law colleges and even the National Law Universities is exorbitant and that the middle class students find it very difficult to pursue Bachelor of Law. It added that students not only pay too much but also lose too much of their precious time due to such a lengthy course.

The petitioner further suggested that in the future, if an entrance examination is started for the judgeship at all India level, then it will be quite feasible to get a law degree in 3 years and prepare for the exam.  It underlined that the 2 years, which can be saved by doing 3 years Bachelor of Law Course, can be utilised in preparation for the All India Judicial Exams like the BA, B.Com and B.Sc graduates prepare for IAS Exam. The petitioner, who himself is a lawyer, stated that he knows that practical knowledge is important for a law career.

The petitioner further remarked that girls bear the biggest hardship of this situation as in a stereotypical family, which does not consider education to be paramount for girls, a significant fee for a prolonged period of time proves to be more of an incentive to not educate their children, especially girls.

The plea submitted that the Bachelor of Law (LLB) course can be compared with Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) and Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) but not with the Bachelor of Engineering or Technology (B. Tech). The petitioner expressed that the exigency of this matter affects hundreds of law aspiring bright students, hence, it must be decided as soon as possible because the admissions of the students in the colleges will commence in May-June 2024.


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