Bombay High Court
Inamdar Vahab Badasha And Ors. vs Symbosis Society'S Law Collegs, ... on 2 March, 1984
Equivalent citations: AIR 1984 Bom 451, 1984 (2) BomCR 382
Author: Jamdar
Bench: S Kurdukar, M Jamdar

JUDGMENT Jamdar, J.

1. This challenge in this Writ Petition is to Rule 5 of Part IV of the Rules of Bar Council of India in respect of the Standards of Legal Educatin & Reconition of Degree in Law.

2. Up to academic year 1981-82 as per Rule 1 of Part IV of the them existing Bar standards of legal education and recongnition of defrees in law, for admission as an Advocate, degree in law obtanied form any University in the territory of India after 12 th day of March 1967 was recognised for the purpose of section 24(1)(c)(iii) of the Advocate's Act, 1961, provided that at the time of joining the course of instructin in the law for a degree in law, the ocndidate waw a graduate of University or possessed such academic qualification to a graduate's degree of a University by the Bar Council of India and that the law degree was ontained after undergoing a course of studyin law for a minimum period of three years as provided in therules. However, in exercise of the powers conferred by S. 49 read with Ss. 7(h) and (I), 24(1)(c)(iii) and (iii) of the Advocates Act, 1961, (hereinafter calaled the "said Act'), the Bar Council of India decided to change the pattern of legal education in the country and fromulated a new law course which contemplates that at the time of joining the course of instruction in law for a degree in law the person sconcerned has passed an examination in 10+ 2 course of schooling recongnised by the educational authority of the Central or the State Governments or possesses such academic qualifications which are considered equivalent ot such 10+ 2 courses by the Bar Council of India, and the law degee has been obtained after undergoing a regular course of studyin a duly recognised law college under sid rules for a minimum period of five years, out of which the first two years shall be devoted to study of pre-law courses as necessary qualification for admission to three years course of study in law to be commenced thereafter. A resolution adopting the new pattern of legal education was considered in a meeting of the Bar Council of India held on 17th / 18th April 1982 and was passed in a meeting held on 6th /7th May 1982 Consequently, the Bar Council of India Rules regarding the standards of legal education andrecongnition of degeees in law for admission as advocate were

3. at the stage we would like to quote the Preamble of the new Rules in Pary IV, formulated by the Bar Council of India, because the purpose stated in the preamble has some relevance while considering the challenge in this Writ Petition:--

"Preamble of the Rules of the Bar Council of India in Part IV Where there is almost complete unanimity of opinion in the country that Legal Education needs to be drastically altered an improved.

And whereas piecemeal changes introduced from time to time have not brought about anysignificant raising of standardes and improvement in the qualift of new entrants to the Bar.

And whyereas it is the statutory obligtation of the Bar Coulcil of India to promote Legal Education and to lay down standards of such education for purposes of admssion to the bar.

And whereas the Legal Education Committee of Bar Council of India has examined the problem in grat depth in consultation with Universities ad State Bar Councils made ints proposals, And whereas it is now recongnised the Bar Council of India has considered the implicatins and merits of the said proposals.

And whereas it is now reocngnised the world overthat apart from technical knowledge of law a liberal technical involving exposure to other disciplines and fields of knowedge in particular the humanities is essential to enable alawyer to make a useful contribution to social change and development.

This Council in exercise of its powers under Ss. 7(h) and (1), 24 and 49(1) of the advocates Act, 1961 and all other powers enabling wo to do,make the following rules."

4. Rules 5. The vires of which is challenged in this Wrir Petition, reads as follows:-

"Admission of a student to the course of instruction in law shall ordinarily be on the basis of merit. No student shall be admitted kto the course of instruction in Provided that in the case of studentw sof Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes a relaxation of maeks upto 5% in the qualifying examinations may be given."

5. the challenge to the rule is made under the following cirumstances. According to the new rules the Universities were supposed to introduce the new law course from the academic year 1982-83, though an option was given to all the Universities tocontinue the old course under an intimation to the Bar kCouoncil of India for a term not exceeding two years from 1982-83 and the first respondent, Symbiosis society's Law College, Pune, took a lead in this matter in the State of Maharashtra and implemented the new lazw courser form the academic year 1983-84. Application for adkmission were dulyinvited by the first respondent. Petitiners Nos. 1 to 7 and others, some Scheduled Tribes sought admission to the first year of the new law course, even thoughthey did not possess requisite percentage of marks viz. 40% for thecindidates belonging to the scheduled Castes and Acheduled Tribes and 45% for other categrories. Admittedly all the students were admitted provisionall and they were informed at the time of admission that their admission was provisional and was subject to the relaxation by the Bar Council of India of the qualification qualifying marks for admission.

6. However, on 22nd June 1983 resondent No. 1 college addressed a letter to the Dean of Law Faculty Univeristy of Poona, pointing out that the condition of requirement of 45% qualifying marks created considerable hardship to a large section of students. The college also suggested certain measures for removing the hardship cause to the large section of sudents who failed to obtain the mininum requisite percentage prescirbed for admission to the new Law Course. Bar Council of India for admission to the new law course while recommending to the Bar Council of India that theminimum qualifying marks prescribed for admission to the newfive year law course be ralazed and a candidate securing 40 marks in X11 or equivalent examination ( 35 % marks in case of B. C. Candidate ) should be allowed to be admitted to the new five year law course.

7. thereafter the above referred sudents who were provisionallyadmitted and who were apprehensive that their provisional admissions any be cancelled, addressed a letter/representation dasted 13 th August 1983 to the President, Bar Council of India, New Delhi, and brough to this notice the predicament in which they were landed inview of the provisional admissions granted to them and requested himto consider their case sympatheticallyand allow them to continue their studies in the facultyof law. they also metioned in the said letter that also metioned in the said letterthat they had learnt that the University had passed a resoultion ot the effect that the admissions to the pre-law course should be given to thestudents who had obtained 40% marks at H. S. VC. (for B. C. 35%) against the Bar Council requirement of 45%

8. the Principal of the college, 1st respondent also wrote a latter Dt. 16-8-1983 to shri Ram Jethmalani, former President of the Bar Council of India and pointed out to him that the requirement of minimum qualifying marks of 45% for admission was causing considerable hardship to a large seciton of the minimum percentage be revised kto 40% )35 for B. C. students) for obtaining admission tot he first yeaart of new law course. It was stated that the said proposal was in keeping with the spirt of the recent resolution pased by the Law Faculty orf Poona University at a meeting held on Sunday, the 3rd July 1983. It was also mentioned that for admission to first year LL. B. (three year course) the minimum qualifying perentage of marks was 40% in B. A., B.Com., B. Sc., or other/qualifying examinations withpercentage was also implemented for the admission to the first year of new give year course.

9-10. Howeover, as the Law Faculty of Poona University has adopted the standared laid down by the Bar Council of India down by the only recommended to the Bar Council of India to reduce to the minimum percentage of qualifying marks, the Registrar of the Poona University in his letter dated 2nd September, 1983,. Addressed tot he secretary, Bar council of India, copywhereof was also endorsed to the Principal of the symbosis society's Law College, 1st respondent, had made it clear that the University had no passed any rwsolution to the effect that the admissions to the pre-law course should be given to the students who have obtained 40l% marks at H. S. C. (for B. C. 35%) against the Bar Council requirement of 45% and asserted the statement of the effect in the representation made by the students was wrong. In the endorsement, forwarding a copy of the said letter to the Principal of the first respndetn, the Registrar of University directed the Principla to ensure that no student not fulfilling the rquirement of circular No. 141 of 1983-84 was aditted to his college and if any admissions were given wrongly, the same should be forthwithconcelled.

11.In the replay dated 12-9-1983, the Prinlcipal of the first respondent brought to thenotice of the registrar the recommedtory resolution passed bythe Law Facculty of Pune University, as also the representation made to the Bar Council of India by the college authorities and the students concerned. However, while stating that the decision of Bar Counvil of India was awaited, the Principal of the first respondetn stated that in compliance with the directions issued by the Registrar, necessary orders direcring concellation of admissions of 28 students were being issued. A copy of this lette was endorsed to the Secretary, bar Council of India with as most of the students were disqualified because of the technical hitch in spite of theybeing sincere and enthusiastic students intending to make a career in law the Bar council, however did not respond and inour vie rightly, and hence the petitioners and other students, who were provisionallyadmitte, were infomed by a general notice dated 9-9-1983 that as they did not secure minimum qualifying marks, their admissions stood cancelled as per directive recerived from the University of Pune. It is this Circular which is sought to be quashed. The petitioners also pray that the respondents be prevented by an order and injunction form cancelling their admissions and/ or preventing them from attending college and tutorials in the first respondent college.

12.As mentioned above, while granting admissions to the kpetitioners and other 22 students the college authorities had made it clear to them that their admissions wer provisionaland subject to the relaxationby the Bar Council of India of the qualificatoin regarding the minimum percentage of marks rquired for admission to the new give year law course. It aappears that the college aythorities felf that this qualification caused hardship to a large number of sudents and was more stringent than the qualification prescribed for admission to the three year law course. The college authorities, therefore, moved the University authorities as also the Bar Council of India. As mentioned above, the Law Faculty of the Pune University while adopting the standard laid down by the Bar Council of India that the minimum qualifying marks for admission to the new five year law course be relaxted. This recommedndation being obviously inconsitent with Rule 5, was not accepted bythe Bar Council of India and hence the Universityauthorities and ultimately the first respondant were ocnstrained to cancel the provisional admissions, which theywer justified indoing in view of the dicision taken bythe Bar council of India.

13.The Bar Council of India did not respond favourably to the representation made by the ocncerned students and the first reapondent college and the recommendation made bythe concerned students and the first repsondent college and the recommedation made bythe aLaw faculty of the Pune University, obviouslyin view of Rule 5, quoted above. It is contended bythe powers of the Bar Council of India because the Bar Council has no power to prescribe the mininum percentage to the marks for the purpose of admisision to the faw course, It, is, however, difficult ot accept this submissio inview of the clear statutory provisions contained in the Advocates Act, 1961.

14. Part IV of the Bar council of India Rules related ot the standards of legal education and recognition of degrees in law, framed under Ss. 7(1)(h) and (I) 24(1)(c)(iii) and (iiia) and 49(af) (ag) and (d) of the advocates Act, 1961, section 7(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961, lays down the functions of the Bar Council of India. It will be seen from clause (h) sub-section (1) of section 7 of the said Act that to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such edcuation in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such edcation and the state Bar Council is one of the statutory functions of the Bar Council of India. As per clause (I) of sub-section (1) OF s. 7 of the sadi Act, to recoginse Universities whose degrees in law shallobe a qualification for enrolment as an Advocate and for that purpose to visit and inspect Universities is also a functon of the Bar Council of India. Section we deals with the qualificatin which a peron must possess for his admission as an Advocate on the State Roll. As per subclause (iii)of clause (c) of sub-section (1) of S. 24 of the said Act a peron obtaining d degree in law after 12 th day of March provided in sub-clause (iiia) after undergoing a three year course of study in law form anyUniversdity in Inda which is recoginsed for the purpose of the said sub-clause (iiia) lays down that in the alternative he should have obtained a degree after undergoing a course of study in law, duration of which is not lessthan two academic years form the academic year 1967-68 or any earlier academic year from any University in India which is recognised for the purpose of theSaid act by the Bar Council of India. Sub-section (1) of S. 49 confers powers on the Bar Council of India to make rules for Advocates Act, 1961. Calues (a) to (j) of sub-section (1) 9of S. 49 of the said Act lay down that such reles may prescribe inlparticular as per clause (af), which was ;substituted by Act 60 of 1973, minumum qualifications required for admission of a course of degree in law in any recognised University while as per sub-clause (ag) such rules may prescribe classor category of persons entitled to be enrolled as advocatres . Sub-claue (d) provides that such rules may prscribe the standards of legal edcuation to be observed bu legal education to be observed by Universities in India and the instpection of Universities for that purpose. It is therefore clear that the Bar Council of India, the discharge of its statuory funcations of promoting legal edcuation and laying down standards of such education in consultation with tlhe Universities inIndia imparting such education and State Bar Councils and to recognise Unversities whose degree in law shall be a qualification or enrolment as an advocate and for the purpose to visit and inspect Universities is competent ot frame rules refarindg the minimum qualification required for admission toa course of degree in law in any recogised University and also the standards of legal edcucation to be observed by Universities in India.

15. a question about the scopt of the power conferred on the Bar Council of India by S. 24 of ;the Act fell the consideration of the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case Bar Council of India, New Delhi v. Gundimeda Keshvaramayya, In that case the resolution passed byt eh Bar Council of India tot he effect that no degree of law obtained after 30 the June 1964 from any university inIndia was recognised unless such degree was onteined after undergoing a course of study in law for a minimum period of two years after graduation, provided however, that nothing therein contanined was to affect a person who has commencel a course of study in law before graduation prior to 28th Feb. 1963 and obtainted a degree in law befor the 1st October 1966 was challenged by the respondent intlhat case. The application forenrolment as an Advocate of the respondent was rejected ............ Andhra Pradesh because though the respondetntook up a course of study on law prior to 28 the Feb. 1963, he took the degree in 1969, and thus lacked the requistite qualification forhis enrolment. It was contended on bebelf of the respndent inthat case that the fization of he upper limit of 1-10-1066 was tltra vires the powers of the Bar Council of India and was therefore, null and void. The Writ was granted by a single Judge of lthe Andhra Pradesh High Court, but in appeal the Division Bench upheld the validity of he Resolution holdingthat S. 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961 conferred unqualified power and dicretin on the Bar Council of India torecognise ornot to recognise the degrees in law conferred by the Universities in India after 28-2-1963 and the Council was, therefore, competent to take ;such steps for the promotion of legal education and in pursuit of that objective to lay down standards of lsuch education whichnecessarily implied power to defined standard of general education as a condition for admission to the course of law. It is periment to note that sub-clause (iiii) of clause (c) of sub section (1) of S. 24 as it stood at the relevant time, provided that ;a personwho obtained a degree in law after 28th Feb. 1963 form any University in the territory of India was qualified for admission as an advocate on a State Roll only if lthle degree was recognised for the purpose of the Act by the Bar Council of India. The resolution impugned inthat case was passed in exercise of lthis power to recongnise degrees obtained after 28th Feb. 1963 Apart form that when this matter was decided, clause (af) of sub-section (1) of S,. 49 of the prescirbed that after March 12, 1967 a degree in law obtained form any degree in law obtained form any University shall not be recogniesed for the purpose of S. 24(1)(c)(iii) of the Advocate Act. Unless certain conditions mentioned there in were fulfilled, was struck down by the Calcutta High Court as ultra vires the provision of Ss. 49(1)(d) and 24(1)(c)(iii) as also S. 7(1) of the advocates Act. In that case the application for enrolment as an Advocates by a woman condidate who obtained thedegee in law form the University of Calcutta as non-collegiate studetn in compliacne with Regulation 35 of he Calcutta University First Regulations (1951), was rejected on the ground that the course of studey in law was not by regular attendance at the requisite number of leftures tutorials and moot Courts in a college reconised by a University as envisaged by Cl (c) of R. 1 (1) of the Bar Council of India Rules. The learned Judges of the Division Bench upheld thechallenge by observing as follows in para 17 of the judgment:---

"It is true that S. 24(1) which lays down conditions forenrolmetn as advocate on a State roll has been made subject to the provisions of the Act and the rules framed thereunderbut such reles have to be made by the Bar Council of India in accordance with the provsion of lyhe Act, that is to say, within the ambit of tis rulemaking power is conferred by S. 49(1) of the Act, Cl.(d) of S. 49(1) does not on the face of its, authorise the Bar Council of India to lay down conditions of enrolmetn. Under Cl,. (d) , the Bar Council of India can frame rules relatingto the standards of legal education to the observed by Universitites for that purpose. "Standards of legal education' ad 'condition of enrolment' are two distinct matters one having no connection with the other. The impuhned R. 1 (1) of Part IV of the Bar Council of India rules, does not lay down any standard of legal education . It lays down the ocnditions of enrolment which is not the funcition of the Bar Council of India. Its funcation for the purpose of S. 24(1)(c)(iii) is to recognise the Indian University for the purpose of the Act.Council of India purports to amend S. 24(1)(c)(iii) of the Act, which it cannot." However this decision cannot be of any avail tot he petitioners because the challenge in this case is not to the lrule relating to the enrolment of Advocates but the challeges in to rule 5 which prescribes the minimum qualifications required for admission to a course of degree in law in any recognised University which Bar Council of India is competent toframe in view of he powers conferred upon it byCl. (af) sub-sec. (1) of S. 49 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

16. It was next urged that this rule is arbitrary and has not rational nexus to the purpose sought to be achieved. The preamble to the rules, quoted above kcompletely negatibes this contention. As stated in the preamble there was almost complete unanimity of opinion in the country that the legal edcution needs to be drastically altered and improved and that the pircemeal changes introduced from the to time had not brough about any significant raising of standardsand improvement in thequality of ;new entrants to the Bar. It is also categorically stated in the preeamble ;that ;the rules were framed in discharge of ;lt;he statutory obligation cast upon the Bar Council of India to promited the legal edcution and to lay down the standard of such education for the purpose of admission to the Bar and that the rules were formulated after the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India examined the problem in great depth in consultation withteh Unversities and State Bar Councils and after considering the implications and import of lhe proposals. It cannot be denied that fixing a particular percentage for admission to the new course is an important step towards improvement of the standard of legaleducation. Considering the complexity of the legal system and ever expending sweep of the legislation in a welfare state having a democraric system ansd committed to social, econnomic and political justice, a student kaspriring to have legal career must have the basis equipment needed to acquire knowledge of humainties which deal with ......... ensuring that only such students take up law course as have aptitude for is, is to lay down a minimum qualifying standard for admisisons. No profession can maintainhighstandard if it is allowed tobe inundated by persons who reluctantly toom upthe law course because having failed to secure admission to the courses of their choice, they have ;nothing else to so. The prescribed minimum qualification therefore has a rational nexus to the purpose sought tobe achieved. We also donot feel that ;the percentage fixed is in any manner arbitrary. It is reasonable and more so inview of the general patern of percentage of marks generally obtained at the qualifying examinations. We are held that practically similar qualifyingstandard is laid down for admisson to other prefessional courses. There is, therefore, no substance in the challenge to the rule on the basis of which theadmission of the petitiners and othere were canceeled.

17. The logical corollary of this conclusion would be to upheld thenotices issued by the first respondent ot the petitioners and othere similarly situated candidates cancelling their provisional admissions, But the earlier narration will clearly show that students alone cannot be blamed. It appears that inspits of he clear mandate of the Bar Council of India and the University the first respondent college proceeded to grant admission, though provisional, to the petitioners and othere similarly situated students with a prious hope that their representationtot he Bar Council of India that the qualifying standard should be resuced, would be accepted No doubt the college made genunie efforts to get the qualification relaxed and for that purpose laid emphsis amougst other, on the circumstance that it was the first instritution to start the new law course when other institutions were in two minds. But this conduct on the part of the qualification would be relaxed. It is also pertinent ot note that thedicisiontocancel their provisional admissions were communicated to the petitioners and other students in September 1983 when doors of Hence to uphold the cancellation of their admissions would cause irreparable hardship to the petitioners and other similarly situated students for very little fault on their part. The blame for the predicament inwhichthe petitioners and other students are landed. Clearly lies on the institution which granted admission to the petitioners and others in spite of the clear mandate of the Bar Council of India. Moreover, if the petitinoers and other similarly situated students are allowed ;to necessary to create more seats nor would it impose additional financial burden on the University or the Govrernment.

18. Hehce, while rejecting the challenge to the relevant rule frmed by the Bar Council of India, we direct, though reluctantly, the respondents toallow the petitioners and other similarly situated students to continue their education for the new five year law course as if they were validly admitted. Rule made absolute to that extent, No. order as to costs.

19. Rule made absolute.