The Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex regulatory body for legal education and legal profession in India, has sought the closure of the law centres under Delhi University’s Faculty of Law. Faculty of Law has been the alma-mater of eminent personalities like Mr. Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibal, former HRD minister and Rohinton Nariman, Supreme Court Judge.
It came as a consequence of an inspection by BCI in October last year after which it released a 127-page report stating 17 conditions for the Law Faculty to comply with. These included limiting the class hours to daytime, cutting down class size, increase in the share of permanent faculty members, provision of a moot court hall, a library, certain electronic equipments and inclusion of clinical papers and internships in the curriculum.
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The BCI had earlier barred recent graduates (post 2010 batch) of DU’s Campus Law Centre, Law Centre- 1 and Law Centre- 2 from enrolling as advocates and disaffiliated the centres citing non-adherence to its new rules that came into force in 2010. However, following the inspection, it approved affiliation of the centres till the session 2014-15 and allowed graduates to enrol provisionally. Ultimately, due to lack of progress on part of the University till the given time and its failure to seek an extension, BCI directed the closure of the Campus Law Centre.
The inspection committee comprised of 7 members including Mr. Ranbir Singh, Vice Chancellor of the National Law University, Mr. Manoj Kumar Sinha, Director of the Indian Law Institute and members of BCI and Delhi Bar Council while it was headed by retired Rajasthan High Court Judge, V.S. Dave.
The post inspection report revealed that CLC, originally built to accommodate 250 students, is now being used to accommodate over 4000 in its 57 rooms out of which 9 are classrooms for the LLB course and 5 for LLM. The number of students in each class exceeds the permitted limit issued under the UGC and BCI. The report further stated that the campus lacks the basic amenity of a canteen and more than 60 percent of the faculty members are on ad-hoc basis while 4 are guest lecturers.
The BCI claims that the University Vice Chancellor, Mr. Dinesh Singh, was uninformed of the deteriorating conditions at its law centres and blames the dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Ashwini Bansal, for the same. Prof. Bansal, however, firmly refutes the claim and says, “The faculty of law as the other institutions under the university are under the supervision of VC and there has been no miscommunication or lack of communication for that matter. As for the report, we are working on the two issues from the list that we feel needs urgent attention. The ad-hoc teachers, although too many in number, are as qualified as the permanent ones (if not more) of any other law institution in the country because of which the students are not being deprived of quality education. I assure the students that we will resort the issue with the BCI for which we have already sent a response and we will continue with our LLB and LLM courses smoothly.”
On being asked if he agrees with the inspection report, Sougat Mishra, a student of 1st year (LLB) at the Faculty of Law says, “The facts are unfortunately true to an extent. I feel our syllabus is not as good as that of the NLUs and we lack adequate infrastructure. Classrooms are definitely overcrowded and I am not aware of any legal internship organised by the institution. They are always on voluntary basis by students”. When asked if he would reappear for law entrance in case the centre does close down, he recalls the proverb “Once bitten, twice shy” and says he would rather appear for civil services or pursue economics this time.
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