After several starts and stops in the admission process for law courses in the state, it appears that many admitted to law colleges may not be able to register for practice. For even after the state government decided not to impose any age limit on this year’s admission, the Bar Council of India (BCI) said it will not allow law graduates above its prescribed age limit to register themselves for practice. Following a spate of confusion over the age restriction on admissions, the state Thursday decided against an age limit as is the case with the all-India Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).
“We have decided that this year’s admissions will be in accordance with CLAT. Moreover, our brochures for admissions had not specified any age limit and aspirants had applied accordingly. Since the Common Entrance Test is over and merit list declared, we have decided to do away with the age limit for this year,” said Sitaram Kunte, Principal Secretary, Higher Education department.
The decision clears the dilemma of law colleges that were issued letters by BCI earlier this week to inform about the age restrictions.
The BCI, however, kept its promise. Earlier, the apex body that governs legal education across the country had said the state could admit students irrespective of age, the BCI would not allow those exceeding age limits (20 years for five-year LLB and 30 years for three-year LLB) to practice as lawyers. A standing committee member of BCI said, “We will not allow anyone above the prescribed age limit to enroll with the BCI for practice. They can, however, take admissions to gain knowledge.”
Meanwhile, Kunte said the state government will propose to the BCI to reconsider the age restriction for this year’s batch. “We will urge the BCI to exempt this year’s batch from the age limit as the admission process is already underway. An informed decision can be taken later for next year onwards after the legal complexity of Clause 28 of Rule 11 of the Standards of Legal Education (Rules) is resolved,” said Kunte. The fate of law aspirants has been in jeopardy ever since the BCI claimed the clause was valid despite a Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling that quashed it.
Confusion over the age limit of law aspirants has continued since 2008 when the BCI introduced Clause 28 in the rules framed under the Advocates Act, 1961. According to the clause, courses were to have a fixed upper limit – 20 years for the five-year course (22 for SC/ST) and 30 years for the three-year LLB course (35 for SC/ST).
The clause was later challenged and in 2011, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed it. The BCI, too, withdrew the clause in 2013 through a notification. However, fresh confusion erupted after contradicting judgments were passed in the Madras and Bombay High Courts. The BCI went to Supreme Court but the validity of the clause is still unclear.
For more news in law colleges admission, click here