What the Supreme Court had to say about the degradation of legal education in India

"We have a situation where anti-social elements go and get law degrees. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka law courses are taking place in cowsheds...," the bench observed
Supreme Court | (Pic: Express)
Supreme Court | (Pic: Express)

The Supreme Court expressed its concern over the quality of legal education in India and its degradation plus, noted that the system, especially at the entry-level, needs improvement. 

It was on Tuesday, January 25, that the top court made these observations while it was hearing an appeal that was filed by the Bar Council of India (BCI). The appeal was against an order of the Gujarat High Court that allowed a single mother to enroll as an advocate without resigning from her job, stated a report in PTI.

"I want to also mention something on the responsibility of the BCI to hold proper exams and make recommendations on how to improve the system at entry-level. Make some suggestions," said Justice SK Kaul, who was heading the bench, as per a report in PTI.

"We have a situation where anti-social elements go and get law degrees. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka law courses are taking place in cowsheds. You have to make introspections. The Principals from Andhra Pradesh will come and stay in Chennai; he will receive money and collect applications. After three years a degree will be given. This is completely diluting the quality. A person without attending classes gets a law degree. More stringent checks on law schools and more serious criteria of entry are important," the bench observed.

While the hearing commenced senior advocate KV Vishwanathan, appointed as amicus curiae, submitted that, indeed, a mechanism can be evolved, wherein, those persons who are already employed are not enrolled and given the certificate at the outset. "They can put on a register that qualifies them to write the exam and thereafter give them enrollment," he said.

But the bench, which also comprising Justice MM Sundresh, stated that it might not be proper to even allow enrollment if the person is still employed. 

The judge said, "prima facie, we find it difficult to accept that somebody can ride both the boats together." "Suppose somebody is enrolled and wants to go out of the profession at some stage. They do not tend to surrender their enrollment certificate, which is something that the Bar Council should also regulate. In Tamil Nadu, I know, almost one-third of bar people were not in the profession...This is a dichotomy that we have to reconcile," Justice Sundresh observed.

Opposing the submissions of the amicus, the counsel for the BCI stated that such suggestions are beyond the scope of the current issue. However, the apex court pointed out that when the rights are asserted by the bar body, the shortcomings should be taken into stock.

It was also pointed out by the bench that part of the problem was the mushrooming of law schools and the quality of education imparted.

"The problem starts at the law schools. The rigour of your bar exam must test knowledge," the bench said and added that there are instances where people get their law degrees without even attending classes. 

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