COULD PART IV & PART II (B) UNDER ENTRY 6 OF BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA RULES BE RELAXED AMIDST COVID-19: SAYS KARNATAKA HC

Two students, Gautham R and Krishnamurthy T K, students of University law college, Bangalore pursuing 5 years integrated BA LLB course, filed a petition stating that Schedule II of Part IV of the Bar Council of India Rules outlines the academic standards and courses a legal institution needs to impart in the course of legal education. Part II (B) under Entry 6 of Schedule II of the Rules of Legal Education (Part IV of Bar Council of India Rules) provides for “Compulsory Clinical Courses” which should be conducted by the respective Universities/Institutions. Under the said Entry 6, Paper 24 refers to “Moot Court Exercise and Internship” which reads as follows:

Moot court exercise and Internship: This paper may have three components of 30 marks each and a viva for 10 marks.
(a) Moot Court (30 Marks).
(b) Observance of Trial in two cases, one Civil and one Criminal (30 marks)
(c) Interviewing techniques and Pre-trial preparations and Internship diary (30 marks)

The University of Law College, Bangalore issued directions as per the guidelines issued by UGC and as per the press note issued by the Bar Council of India on June 9, the University has adopted alternative guidelines with regard to requirements under 24 (b) and (c) only for the academic year 2019-2020.

The petitioners contented that : in the view of the pandemic, the Karnataka High Court has laid down certain Standard Operating Procedures for the regular functioning and operation of the Courts wherein it has been categorically laid down that the entry of Advocates’ clerks, litigants as well as any other third parties have been strictly prohibited into the premises of the courts, sans permission. Hence, it would be difficult for the students of final year of law to enter the court premises and observe the court proceedings or to observe interviewing sessions of clients at a Lawyer’s Office/Legal Aid Office for the purpose of accomplishment of the course. The Law Chambers/Firms of Advocates are also reluctant to encourage students from law schools to intern at their offices keeping in mind the principles of social distancing.

Hence, the petitioners prayed for direction to respondents to dispense with clause (b) and (c) of Paper 24 under Schedule II of Part IV of Bar Council of India Rules (“Rules of Legal Education”) for the academic year 2019-2020.

While stating “Today Bar council members may have taken this decision but tomorrow we may not know what will happen. So we have to secure the future of the students Suppose a student wants to pursue education in a foreign University after completion of course and if the degree is not recognised at a later stage, it will affect their career,” the bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice M Nagprasanna ordered the Bar Council of India (BCI) to clarify if it has powers to relax rules and if it has been used to allow Law Universities to issue another guidelines, to allot the mandatory regulations for all final year students of Five Year Law Course, to involve themselves in moot courts, internships, pre-trial preparation etc, for the academic year 2019-20.

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