The Legal Education Committee (LEC) of Bar Council of India (BCI) has to decide afresh — without referring to, or getting influenced by its earlier decision — whether Faculty of Law can be allowed to admit 2,310 students against the capped intake of 1,440, the Delhi High Court has said.
The court was hearing the matter after a PIL was filed by Advocate Joginder Sukhija against reduction of seats. The reduction would infringe “the legal and fundamental right of students to have higher education of their choice,” the PIL said.
In the last hearing, the BCI had rejected the PIL and declined to consider the representation of the Dean of Law Faculty, of April 2017, seeking enhancement of seats. The court had directed the BCI to file a counter affidavit, addressing some “pertinent issues” in the representation. Following this, an inspection committee visited the law faculty premises last Friday.
The seven-member inspection committee comprised Justice (retd) V N Sinha of Patna High Court; Justice Rajesh Tandon, former judge of Uttarakhand High Court; S S Singh, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Bhopal; Sukh Pal Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur; Ashok Kumar Pandey, Joint Secretary of the BCI; N Senthil Kumar, Assistant Secretary, Legal Education Department, BCI; and Dinesh Pathak, member, BCI.
On Monday, the BCI submitted its inspection report in a sealed cover to the court. The counsel for the BCI informed the court that its Legal Education Committee (LEC) will conduct a three-day meeting from June 17-19 to deliberate on the issue. A bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice C Hari Shanakar then directed BCI to communicate its decision to the court, Dean of Law Faculty, and Sukhija on or before June 24, it said.
Meanwhile, Ved Kumari, Dean of Law Faculty, told the court that apart from the issue of increase of seats, the representation also sought a waiver of the fine earlier imposed by the BCI and flexibility in using the buildings for conducting classes. But, in the present matter, the faculty was concerned only with the issue of the number of seats. The bench then asked the BCI’s LEC to consider, in its meeting, only the matter pertaining to the number of seats.
Kumari told The Indian Express that the faculty had a total capacity of around 1,500 seats, in its three centres, since 1975. It was only in 2008 that additional 54% seats (around 810 seats) were added for OBC students as per Central Educational Institutes (Reservation of Seats) Act, 2006.
“The faculty did not increase even one seat since 1975, but for the mandatory expansion. We now have more than the required infrastructure,” she said, adding that the inspection committee was “quite happy” with the infrastructure.