On May 31st, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Centre, the University of Delhi (DU), and the Bar Council of India (BCI), seeking direction not to reduce the LLB seats in the University. The current intake of students is 2,310. Thus, the Delhi High Court asked the BCI to consider DU’s representation for increasing the seats in its LLB course and to take a decision by the evening of June 6th.

DU had sought permission to increase its seats for the law course, claiming it had improved its infrastructure and increased the strength of its teaching faculty. The Bench observed that the BCI had not capped the seats due to the lack of infrastructure, and therefore its improvement wouldn’t entitle DU to seek an increase in seats offered for the course. It, however, allowed DU to advertise for only 1,440 seats for its law course, like last year and said it would be subjected to the outcome of a plea seeking an increase of seats to 2,310. The order came during a hearing of a petition by lawyer Joginder Kumar Sukhija, who claimed that many students, especially graduates, would be affected if the seats were reduced. The petition added that by reducing the number of seats, the public money, which is used to provide a grant to DU, was not being put to optimal use.

Last year, the DU students protested after reports surfaced on the suggestion by the BCI to trim down the number of seats for admission to the 2016-17 batches for LLB seats at the three law centers. Since 2014, the Law Faculty has been in trouble with the BCI for not following the council’s rules regarding infrastructure support and student intake.

The PIL sought a direction to strike down the clause 5 A of Schedule-III of Rules of Legal Education 2008 enacted by the BCI, claiming it was capricious and in blatant violation of fundamental rights. Under Rule 5 A, a law college can admit only 300 students each year. As the varsity has three law centers, it can have a total of 900 seats only. But, as an exception, BCI has allowed the varsity to admit additional 180 seats per center for reserved categories, the lawyers’ body told the court. Hence, the law aspirants are hoping for an increase in the number of seats in DU. After all, 2000 students should be accommodated if adequate infrastructure is made available to those aspiring to enroll in the varsity.


Feature Image Credits: Bar & Bench


Radhika Boruah

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Bar Council of India office on August 21, 2016, Manan Kumar Mishra, the chairman of the BCI, announced that the reduction of seats in Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and the scrapping of evening classes will be implemented from the next academic year, an announcement that has come to the relief of several Law aspirants who had been affected by the delay in admissions and the sudden move of cutting down seats in DU’s Faculty of Law. According to the BCI, DU’s law faculty was flouting several guidelines with respect to the infrastructure required for the intake of the number of students the faculty takes in and the timings of these classes. The Law Faculty’s intake of students is close to 2300, when it should be 1440 according to the BCI guidelines. The faculty also holds classes in the evening, which the BCI claims is a violation of the Legal Education Rules. In the interest of the students who had applied to and appeared for the LL.B entrance for the year 2016-17 knowing the seat availability of 2310 during the time of their application, the BCI has given Delhi University a one-year relaxation for the current academic session. The three Delhi University centres will be allowed to take 767 students each, which adds up to the total of 2310 seats as originally advertised by the University. From the academic session 2017-18, the University can only take in 480 students per centre. No evening classes will be held starting from the next academic session. Other points discussed in the meeting pertained to the timings of the classes for the incoming as well as the existing batches such that the 5.30 hours of class time are covered. For the incoming batch of 2016-17, classes in the Law Centre-I will be held from 8 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and in Law Centre-II from 2.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. The existing batches of second and third year students of Law Centre I and II will be allowed to take classes till 9.30 p.m. In the current academic year, Law Centre I and II will operate out of Faculty of Law’s new campus while the Campus Law Centre will operate from its current campus only. Law Centre II will shift to a new location from the next year, and the Campus Law Centre will shift to the new campus in North Campus to operate alongside Law Centre I. The decision has come to the relief of several aspirants after days of protests and a hunger strike. Abhinav Khandpur Arora, a Law Faculty aspirant and one of the thirteen students who were on a hunger strike a few days ago, was happy about the decision but lamented about the delay. He said, “I had tried everything I could – protests, strikes, legal action, writing to people- to make sure the unjust decision of reducing the seats wasn’t implemented. While the decision has come really late, I am glad that the university and the BCI came through for us.” Counseling for admission in the Faculty of Law, which was being delayed due to the tussle between the University and BCI, is likely to start soon. With inputs from Abhinav Khandpur Arora, Govind Roy and Ishaan Gambhir Shubham Kaushik [email protected] ]]>

A tempestuous history The Law Faculty, Delhi University, has faced a lot of flak from the BCI, the authority that controls Legal Education in India, in recent years for the lack of proper infrastructure in its three centres and for flouting several of its guidelines. In 2014, in an unprecedented move, the BCI had derecognised DU’s LLB programme after the University had failed to seek fresh affiliation for its centres. According to news reports, it would have had an impact on all Law Faculty graduates post 2011 because that’s when the institution flouted BCI guidelines by increasing the number of seats without the basic infrastructure for it. Provisional affiliation was granted for the session of 2014-15. The Law Faculty currently does not have an affiliation with the BCI. After the declaration of results of the LLB entrance exam this year in July, the University had issued a circular about the delay in the admissions process and the postponement of the session due to “unavoidable circumstances”, which were that the Faculty was still awaiting BCI’s approval before starting the admissions process for the new session. The BCI recommendations arrived in the early days of August and the Law Faculty wasn’t in the clear despite plans to shift to a new, better-built campus. The BCI report approves intake of just 1440 students as opposed to the Law Faculty’s intake of nearly 2200 students in previous years. This scrapping of almost 800 students understandably did not go down well with law aspirants who were confident of making it to the prestigious institution based on its previous intake numbers. The move has left them reeling because admissions were invited at 2200 seats and the decisions to reduce their number came weeks after the declaration of the entrance results and the original date on which counseling was supposed to start.

In conversation with protesters and aspirants

On August 14, 2016, one day into the hunger strike, we spoke to some of the students who were on a hunger strike to give us their account of the situation. Seated on mattresses with table-top fans in the corridor, several accounts of the effect of the last minute cut-down of seats emerged. Binny Chopra, a law aspirant and one of the thirteen students on the hunger strike, resigned from his job at an accounts firm after the declaration of the results of the entrance exam. He also told us about several friends who didn’t pursue admissions in other law colleges despite clearing their entrances because they were counting on the Law Faculty and had made the cut according to the original number of seats offered. They are left with nowhere to go to with the other universities having closed admissions now. Satendar Awana, president of Delhi University’s students’ union, is a law aspirant himself. When asked about the BCI’s point of the lack of infrastructure to support the number of students at the law faculty, he said, “We were expecting a higher number of seats this time with the building of the new campus which has better facilities which are at par with those of private institutions.” There is a consensus amongst the protesting students about the unfairness of the situation where the original number of seats announced in the prospectus and before the entrance exam was 2200 and this number was cut down without any prior information after months of delay in the admissions. Awana informed us that the authorities, including the Dean of the Faculty of Law, were assuring the students of admissions at the original number of seats days before the notification of the cut-down dropped. The students are disappointed by the lack of resolve shown by the authorities.

Recent Developments

According to our sources, on the eve of Independence Day, the protesters were visited by the Maurice Nagar SHO and the Proctor of Delhi University. They told the students that their demands were being worked on and would be taken care of in the next few days. They also requested them to adjourn their strike, to which the students agreed, hopeful about the concern being shown by the authorities. Awana later received a call from the Dean of the Faculty of Law assuring him that the authorities had written a letter to the BCI, asking them for a stay on this case which would allow them to admit students according to the original number of seats. When the student protestors asked to be shown the letter, it turned out to be something that the authorities had written to the BCI in the past. No fresh communication had taken place from the Dean to the BCI post the recent recommendations by the body. The students, who felt that they had been tricked by this move, are now back to protesting and will continue till the final decision in the case between the BCI and the Law Faculty. When asked about the assurances of the Proctor and the SHO, Abhinav Arora, a Law Faculty aspirant said, “I have no expectations from any of their assurances. I have no expectations of any progress to be made before the final hearing in the court which is scheduled for August 22, 2016. I called the Dean when I was on a hunger strike and he assured me that he’d come and show us the letter that he’d sent to the BCI. After what has happened today, I feel cheated and betrayed.” The final decision in this limbo being played by the BCI and the Law Faculty is being awaited by the students in the hope that they weren’t unfairly denied a chance to study at the institution of their choice because of carelessness of the authorities. In a phone conversation with DU Beat, the Dean of the Faculty of Law, SC Raina, denied claims that the aspirants had been tricked and showed an old letter. He said, “There were two documents. One was a letter dated July 23. The other, which was shown to Awana, was an application that was dated August 16.” When the student protesters were informed about this, they denied being shown the letter written on August 16 and said that it’s possible that it was written by the authorities under pressure after interacting with them. With inputs from Abhinav Arora, The Indian Express, The Times of India and Hindustan Times Image credits: tilakmarg.com Shubham Kaushik [email protected]]]>