The bar council of India a statutory body established under section 4 of the Advocates Act 1961, through the report proposed in march 1953 by the all India bar committee which was headed by S.R Das. The bar council regulates legal education and legal practice in India. The members of the bar council are selected amongst the lawyer of India, it exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar, it regulates professional conduct and etiquette. They also set the standards for legal education in the country and grant recognition to universities from a student can get a law degree and get administered as an advocate. It was the bar council’s bold and artistic decision to exchange the three-year course with the five years integrated course and sponsor the primary National school of law in Bangalore. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the council are elected for 2 years from amongst its member and elect by the council itself.
The need for an all Indian bar and the importance of uniform standards for law examination in different universities in India emerged after the constitution of India was established on Jan 26, 1950. In May 1950, under the presidency of Shri S. Varadachariar, the Madras Provincial Lawyers committee resolved that there should be a committee by the government of India that should evolve a scheme for an all-India bar and also amend the Indian bar councils Act such it conforms to the new constitution. A member of parliament Shri Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi proposed a bill to amend the India bar councils Act, in August 1951. The government of India saw the importance for the government to sponsor the bill and in August 1951 a committee of inquiry was set up to consider the practicability of a unified bar in India, the continuance or abolition of the twin system of counsel for every state, the possibility of a separate Bar Council for the Supreme Court and therefore the revision of enactments related to the legal profession.
FUNCTIONS OF BCI
Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961 lays down the bar council’s regulatory and representative mandate. The functions of the Bar Council are to:-
- It set the standards for professional conduct and etiquette for advocated
- set rules to be followed by disciplinary committees
- Protects the rights, privileges, and interests of advocates
- promotion and support of law reforms
- matters referred by state bar council are also dealt with
- Legal aid to the one who can’t afford it is provided by the council i.e to The poor and the scheduled caste.
- determine universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrollment as an advocate
- recognize the qualifications in law which are obtained outside India for admission as an advocate
- management and investment of funds of bar council
- organize seminars on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals
ROLE IN LEGAL EDUCATION
The opportunities for quality legal education in India were limited, till the early 1920s. The next level evolution of legal education begun in India after the bar council of India founded the National law school university. In August 1987, the establishment of India’s first national law school university in Bangalore has brought about a model shift in the teaching of, and research in law. The bar council of India has indeed played a very important role in the development of legal education in India. Bar Council is a pioneer for structuring the legal education system in India as it exists today.
Section 7(1) (h) of the Advocates Act, 1961 reads:
“The function of the Bar Council of India shall be to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the state bar council.”
Under the Advocates Act, 1961 the role of the bar council was limited to promote legal education and to lay down minimum standards necessary for those students who would ultimately enter the legal profession to practice in the courts.
The bar council mainly plays its role in Indian legal education through the legal education committee, which consists of five members of the Bar Council of India and five co-opted members to represent the judiciary, the Law ministry, the university grants commission and academia. This committee makes recommendations to the bar council of India on all matters related to legal education in the country. The Legal education committee elects its own Chairman. The legal committee has the power to make recommendations to the council for laying down the standards of legal education for universities, to visit and inspect universities and report the results to the council. It can recommend to the council the conditions subject to which foreign qualification in law obtained by persons aside from citizens of India could also be recognized and to recommend to the council for recognition of any degree in law of any university within the territory of India. The committee also has the power to recommend the discontinuance of recognition of any university already made by the council.
But in the present case scenario, our legal education has changed, the bar council has failed to implement the new changes that are majorly required in our legal education field. It is still fixated with the view that the sole purpose of legal education is to generate practicing lawyers rather than creating lawyers who are comfortable and skilled in dealing with the different legal systems and at the same time remaining strong in one’s own nation. An immediate challenge is to enhance the standard of legal education during an overwhelming majority of law schools within the country. A significant focus should get on developing the curriculum so that it meets the contemporary demands for legal services, recruitment of competent and committed faculty, establishing research and training centers, necessary support from the state, and creating the necessary infrastructure, especially a well-endowed library.
One thing we can certainly tell through this is that the Bar Council of India has a lot of functions vested in it, but one of its main roles is in the development of Indian legal education in India which it does through the legal education committee. Bar council has done a great job in maintaining the standards in the national law school universities but they failed to do so in other law colleges. There are lots of loopholes in our legal system in which the Bar council should look into, to protect the law from degradation and to maintain its standards.
The Report of the National Knowledge Commission 2006 proposed to possess an Independent regulatory agency for education (IRAHE) with several Standing Committees including one for legal education. The Advocates Act 1961 would need to be amended accordingly. The new committee on Legal Education would represent all the stakeholders. Their recommendations would be taken into consideration by the new regulator. This manner the Legal Education would be revamped to satisfy the challenges of all sections of the society within the next five decades. As we know Society is changing very fast, so must law and consequent legal education.
Author: Sanidhya Pateriya,
JLU, Bhopal / 1st year