|VOLUME 2| ISSUE 2| OCTOBER 2018|ISSN (O): 2581-3595)|

QUALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION IN INDIA: IS IT HEADING TOWARDS A LOWER STANDARD?

AUTHORED BY: MS. N. ILAKKIYA (B.C.A., LL.B (HONS)), THE TAMILNADU DR. AMBEDKAR LAW UNIVERSITY (SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IN LAW- SOEL).

 “Education – is the manifestation of perfection already in man

-Swami Vivekananda

Law is a great profession, but it’s not an easy one for its establishment

INTRODUCTION:

Law is a science where it is considered as a social phenomenon in all diverse aspects in the society. It serves as an instrument for achieving socio-economic development in society.  Law is not restricted to courts alone but it is also a social science phenomenon and hence its impacts reflect in the society to a greater extent. But it can be expressed only by a lawyer, who is a characterized as a social engineer and can be brought out only by the way of legal education.

Legal education is the very important and urgent issue to be concentrated in the recent scenario. Legal education is a mixed kind of education which includes education of individuals, practices, and theory of law. In other terms, it can be defined as the education of individuals who intend to become legal professionals or those who simply intend to use their law degree to some end, either related to law (such as politics or academic) or business.[1] The Law Commission of India defines legal education as a science which imparts to students knowledge of certain principles and provisions of law to enable them to enter the legal profession.[2] The law commission also considers legal education is “fundamental to the very foundation of the judicial system”.[3] Legal Education is a technique, arena, and platform for rational, orderly and non-violent settlement of disputes and handling of conflicts.[4]

Law the very important thing which every human present in this world should know about it. But is that every human in the Earth knows about what are the laws prevailing in his own country?  Does every human in the world is showing any kind of interest to know about these laws? Ok, not every human are lawyers, but the lawyers themselves know the law in every aspect? Are they are really efficient in court’s duties? Are they are able to save their client from the allegations when it comes to a case?  Finally, who is responsible for these above questions?

Yes, the legal education is playing a very important role and they are responsible for these part. Legal education should be given a greater responsibility. Since legal education is necessary or plays a vital role, it should solve the above questions.

Here the author tries to quote some of the legal education issues in India since nowadays the legal education in India is facing a lower standard literally when compared to other nations in the world and also suggested some measures to be taken.

Why there is a low standard prevailing? There are various reasons for these things. They are:

  • In India still, we cherish and nourish the system established by the British.
  • The second major problem prevailing is the poor techniques which have been handled by the law universities and law schools. Because due to this there come forth a question whether the law universities are providing their students of law with a proper teaching?
  • There lacks a proper infrastructure with the library facilities.
  • Drastic divergence prevailing among the law colleges.
  • Shortage of attendance of students.
  • Is that they are making the law students expert learners?
  • Another thing there is no uniformity of syllabus. It differs from college to college and from university to university.

Does by seeing all these instances for the above raised questions the answers were in negative nature. From this, we can very well infer that the quality of legal education is facing a drastic challenge and these challenges should be improved soon.

LEGAL EDUCATION IN INDIA:

The Legal education is an instrument much needed for the lawyers and they should acquire it before they enter into the field of practice. These educations are provided at various levels by the institutions like traditional universities and by the specialized law universities/ law schools.

Earlier the legal education is granted only for three years and before doing law they must have completed an undergraduate degree and after passing that degree then alone the person can apply for this professional course. But now this alone is not the options, those are interested in pursue law they can go for either of the choices. They are:

  • The students can opt for the above-said method,
  • Or else now the legal institutions are providing 5 years integrated courses like B.A., L.L.B (Hons) or B.B.A., L.L.B (Hons) or B.Com.L.L.B (Hons). The students after completing their higher secondary studies then they can apply for these courses and after enrolment; they are eligible for pursuing law.

ROLE OF REGULATORY BODIES IN LEGAL EDUCATION:

1. THE UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION ACT:       

 Taking note of an exigent need to bring about reforms in the university education, the Parliament, in the exercise of its legislative power under Entry 66 of List I[5] enacted the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. This Act is enacted to make provisions for the coordination and determination of standards in universities even in the legal education. The UGC is also the authority dealing with the grant of affiliation to the law colleges. The UGC Act provides that it shall be the general duty of the Commission to take, in consultation with the universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and coordination of university education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the universities.[6] Section 12(d)[7] provides that the UGC may recommend to any university necessary measures for improvement of university education and advise the university regarding the action to be taken for the purpose of implementing its recommendations.

2. LAW COMMISSION REPORT:

 Even there was a law commission proposed about the legal education improvement of its standards presided over by Shri M.C. Setalvad (14th Report) on “Reform of Judicial Administration”, in 1958.

With the help of these  Report of the Law Commission and interest expressed by academic lawyers and the Bar made Parliament take stock of the situation and as a result the Advocates Act, 1961 came to be enacted by Parliament by virtue of its powers under Entries 77 and 78 of List I.[8]

3. BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA:                   

The Bar Council of India [9](hereinafter called as BCI) enacted a statute called the Advocates Act, 1961. One of the main function of the BCI is to “promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the universities in India imparting such education and the Bar Councils of the States”. The BCI also should regard to the standards of legal education to be observed by the universities in India and the inspection of universities for the purpose.[10] The BCI enacted its Rules in 1965 to deal with the standards of legal education and recognition of degrees in law for admission as advocates. Rule 21 of the Bar Council of India Rules, 1965 provides that the BCI may amend the provisions relating to maintenance of standards of legal education from time to time to overcome the emerging problems and the university/college is required to follow the same.

Rule 8 of Chapter III of the Bar Council Rules deals with the Legal Education Committee, enables the Committee (a) to make its recommendations to the Council for laying down the standards of legal education for the universities, (b) to visit and inspect universities and report to the Council, and (c), to recommend to the Council for recognition of any degree in law of any university under Section 24(1) (c) (iii) of the Act.[11] Rule-17 states that no college shall impart legal education unless its affiliation to any university has been approved by the BCI.[12] Rule-18 deals with inspection by a Committee to be appointed for this purpose.[13]

Thus the law degrees in India that are granted in the Advocates Act, 1961,  passed by the Parliament both on the aspect of legal education and also regulation of the conduct of the legal profession.[14] Thus the students completing their course are eligible to get enrolled with the BCI only after fulfilment of eligibility conditions imposed by them and after this; they can appear before any courts in India. However, with effect from December 2010, all fresh law graduates or those who have already cleared their law graduation but have not yet enrolled with the bar council must clear a bar examination to be entitled to practice before courts or tribunals in India.[15] [16]

Thus the Bar Council is the prime regulatory body to regulate the legal profession in India by keeping it connected to the present scenario and maintenance of professional standards by the legal profession in the country and they are in collaboration along with both State and Central government is responsible for the correct revetment of legal education for the students enrolled in law universities or in law colleges. The University Grants Commission is also the one of the body to regulate the legal education and still it is acting very keenly on these issues.

OBJECTIVES OF LEGAL EDUCATION:

For a India is a democratic country at the same time a developing country also hence it may have many legal objectives in the field of legal education. Across the world, they have been enumerated as follows,[17]

  1. Socialization Objectives: the use of education to develop perceptions and understanding of the environment, local and global; to understand the problems of one’s society; to influence values and attitudes.
  2. Manpower of Objectives: the use of the total educational system to generate the kinds of skills and knowledge needed for tasks in society.
  3. Opportunity objectives: the use of education to broaden opportunity and mobility in society- notably among groups who may have been historically deprived or repressed.
  4. Research Objectives:The use of educational facilities to develop research of value to education and society.
  5. Administrative objectives: the use of planning in the governance of institutions; the use of more sophisticated methods in budgeting, managing and evaluating programs. 

ACADEMIC DEGREES OFFERED IN INDIAN LEGAL INSTITUTIONS:[18]

In India, a student can pursue a legal course only after completing an undergraduate course in any discipline. However, following the national law school model, one can study law as an integrated course of five years after passing the senior secondary examination.

  • Bachelor of Laws(LL.B.) – The LL.B. is the most common law degree offered and conferred by Indian universities which have the duration of three years.
  • Integrated undergraduate degrees- B.A.,LL.B., B.Sc.,LL.B., BBA.,LL.B., B.Com. LL.B. These degrees are mostly offered in the autonomous law schools having the duration of five years. It also provides the courses like B.A.LL.B., (HONS.), BBA.LL.B.,(HONS.), B.Com.LL.B.,(HONS.), and B.C.A.L.L.B.,(HONS)  and the duration of these courses is five years.
  • Master of Laws(LL.M.) – The LL.M. is most common postgraduate law degree which has the duration of one/two years.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Integrated MBL-LLM/ MBA-LLM.-Generally a three years double degree integrated course with specialization in business law.

ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LEGAL EDUCATION:

The legal education should be upgraded from time to time. The legal education should develop lawyers who must sow the seed with good human values.[19] When they failed to do this there emerge the major disadvantages in the legal education. There are many disadvantages that are faced in the legal education side. But few are discussed here. They are:

1. BRITISH SYSTEM:

On looking at history India was under the British control for many years. Though British men came just for imposing trade in our country later looted our natural resources.  But at the same time looking at the positive side, the British men are responsible for implementing the System of Railways and at the same time developed the system called Education. Not only that, they did not stop with the concept education they extended their concept up to legal education. They implemented this because they knew the importance of the legal education to a very greater extent. The British men framed many statutes on the part of legal education. One such example is the Indian Penal Code[20] statue. Even our Indian Constitution adopted certain provisions of the British Constitution.  But still, certain provisions in the Indian Penal Code are not suitable to be applied in recent times. They need to be amended for the present situation. The amended statute alone is suitable to the present Indian country and after this alone it can be applied in the courts. Hence to show a better legal education the parliament taking into these considerations have to amend the provisions to our Indian scenario. Not only has the Indian penal code been to be amended even various other statutes also to be amended as per the current circumstances.

2. QUALITY OF TEACHING:

Majority of the people have a common point that there was a greater standard of the law colleges in the country and of the students was deteriorating day by day.  It is seen that the teaching standards are reduced to a greater extent. The teaching of the law professors is very mediocre nowadays. It should be viewed that though the teachers are qualified with their degrees, in reality, they are not qualified for teaching; they lack some practical works in them. It is also seen that when there is a reopening of the new college, the college should have adequate teaching faculty. For a very long period and till now we are hiring the faculties who are either part-time teaching by lawyers and occasional guest lectures by serving and retired judges.  “Do the law colleges train the students of law like professionals?” the answer to the question is no. The teachers should guide their students to draft pleadings.  It was also noted and endorsed that to improve the fundamentals of legal education: there must a well-qualified, well trained, well paid and a dedicated law teacher. Law is like a mirror which reflects the happenings of the society and hence those who are committed to this profession have a more serious duty and also an additional responsibility to carry out the above-said things. A law teacher should always be aware that he has a delicate duty to produce a quality future law-maker in the society.

The students of integrated course and the law teachers when they are in collaboration they may have some extra potential in exploring the knowledge of the subject. Thus the law teachers have to do many research works on any subject and also should encourage their students also to do research work. Most of the law faculties seen nowadays are either completing their L.L.B., L.L.M., or Ph.D. and they have a very little knowledge of the practical aspect of law and about court practice. Due to these things the teachers only imbibe theoretical knowledge, dissociate from the practical aspects and as a result, fresh and efficient lawyer appears quite lost in the court-rooms. Thus the UGC was responsible for setting the qualification of teachers. In the University of Delhi v. Raj Singh[21] is illuminative in this regard, The Supreme Court held that regulations framed by UGC prescribing qualifications for teaching staff would override and prevail over all other legislation in this regard. UGC’s regulatory character was succinctly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Prof. Yashpal v. State of Chhattisgarh,[22] as well. Law is the science of examining the social phenomenon in all its diverse aspects. Majority of the law teachers/law professors today accept that reality and endeavour to safeguard the dignity of legal discipline.

Not only that there should be a proper evaluation of answer scripts. There is also another criticism that the law colleges are failing many numbers of students in the name of arrear to collect the extra amount for the term re-evaluation. And after this payment, they are passing the students in the papers (i.e the answers script).  This should be controlled to a greater extent and hence the bar council is responsible for to take measures in these kinds of acts.

3. STANDARD OF SYLLABUS:

It was suggested that the syllabus of the law colleges was very unsatisfactory. It is the recent criticism prevailing in most of the colleges. There must be a uniform syllabus all over India. It is seen that the syllabus varies from colleges to colleges and from universities to universities. There is a difference of syllabus prevailing in the colleges. The syllabus must be uniform and should be in a standard manner. For example, when it is compared to Indian scenario where the National Law Schools are having one form of a syllabus and the other government colleges with low library facilities are having a different syllabus. This should be changed. When this idea is changed then there is a uniform standard of legal education will be prevailing in the society.

When it is coming to the standard of legal education the UGC as well as the Bar Council have requested the universities to revise their syllabi as per the current scenario but still, there is no such thing happening yet. The universities should include the subjects which are of basic subjects and should be compulsorily learned (subjects like Constitution of India, IPC, Contract Acts, CPC, CRPC etc.) and also should include the contemporary subject. The new scheme which the Bar Council seeks to propose tackles this issue by providing for a pre-law school study period of two years in a number of law-related social science subjects.[23] Finally, a practical training session for 6 months has been prescribed.[24] Thus there should be a uniform standard of syllabus prevailing in all the law schools in India for the welfare of the legal education improvement.

4. DRASTIC DIVERGENCE PREVAILING AMONG THE LAW COLLEGES:

Though there are some reputed national law schools in India, there are many number of unauthorized and unrecognized number of institutions and call themselves as law institutions and freely providing the degree without even thinking about the future consequences. These colleges should be given a proper recognition by the UGC. Then alone these institutions can be considered as a recognized institution. When such thing is not seen then the Government should take action regarding these issues. Thus the quality of student differs from college to college because of the education they get. The students should also be aware to get enrolled in reputed law colleges.

5. SHORTAGE OF ATTENDANCE OF STUDENTS:

There may emerge a doubt that how far the attendance of students will affect the legal education?

But to my point, there is every chance of legal education to get affected. The students those are taking frequent leave, how he/she can become an efficient lawyer when he/she lacks classroom knowledge. How can he perform his duties in courts when he lacks in this. Even the law schools have no serious concern on this issue. Some law colleges don’t even take a note on this. They are not bothered about their student’s attendance. They simply provide their students with maximum attendance and then allow them to appear in the examinations. Thus the law colleges must look into these issues seriously and when their students fail to do this then there must be some kind of action taken against him.

In another scenario, the students are going to their college only for the sake of attendance and not for anything else. They don’t even bother about gaining knowledge in legal aspects. Even these kinds of students lack both the theoretical and practical knowledge in the subjects. These kinds of students should be concentrated by the law teachers. They have to encourage them to know about the subjects. The colleges should not be treated as picnic spots and rather it’s a place where knowledge gaining should be concerned more. Hence the legal education quality should not be made lower due to such kind of practices.

6. MAKING LAW STUDENTS EXPERT LEARNERS:[25]

The law colleges have failed to train students to be expert learners. In order to better prepare students for the practice of law, a more effective formative assessment in doctrinal courses, lawyering skills courses and clinics may be used. A law teacher can use the formative assessment process to improve the meta-cognitive skills of law students so they can transfer their learning to the new and novel situations they face in the practice of law.[26] The goal of formative assessment should be to move legal education away from a focus on an end product to the underlying process of developing these products.

7. PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WITH THE LIBRARY FACILITIES:

This is a very common issue prevailing for ages. The law schools present in India have to concentrate on creating a good and sound infrastructure. The government also should provide certain funds for these infrastructures to the law colleges.  It is generally seen that the infrastructure of the national law schools is better than other government colleges. University campuses should be places that can inspire students and the faculty so that they are involved in reflecting upon the various problems that confront society.[27] Academic freedom to think and contribute cannot be ensured if universities lack the necessary physical infrastructure.[28] The universities should not concentrate on the infrastructure alone but it should be equally given importance in creating a knowledge filled libraries. Libraries are very needful in every law universities. Even libraries can create great minds and knowledgeable lawyers in future. When a faculty is not in a position to clear the doubt raised by the young minds then they can go to the library and refer the law books to clear their doubts. For this, the library is very necessary. Even it is very necessary for the faculties also, even they can verify the data or sources etc. the library is also very helpful to do research works. The law library provides a greater knowledge of knowing other countries statutes also since it contains many of foreign author books who did various researches in various fields of law. The library should contain important journals in it.  Thus the library facilities in our law schools should be elevated, for which huge resources have to be mobilized. The facilities should reach an international standard and it should not be just constructed for name sake. It should provide all the necessary requirements to the students. Thus the law library is also considered as the special library.

SUGGESTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS:

There were several suggestions made on behalf of the Judiciary, teachers of law or senior professors and leaders of the bar in the country to improve the standard of legal education in various aspects. Although the efforts made by the Bar Council of India, professional legal education, however, continues to suffer from drawbacks.  Still these suggestions will help to still further to improve the quality of legal education. They are:

  • Since there was lack of disciplinein the law colleges, therefore it was suggested that there should be an entrance examination (example like CLAT) and only students with a high percentage of marks should be selected for admission to a law college. But this system is prevailing only in some colleges and it is compulsorily followed in the National law schools. When this kind of system is implemented in all the law colleges then the legal education of India steps one step forward in the development.
  • Another suggestion is that before granting a recognition to a law colleges a committee should be formed consisting of a member to be nominated by the Bar Council of India (and not by its Chairman only), a member to be nominated by Hon. the Chief Justice of India, who shall be a Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court and a member to be nominated by the Bar Council of India, who shall be a renowned person in the field of legal education.
  • There should be a proper recognition of law institutions by UGC. The law colleges without prior recognition, then the government should take a serious action against them.
  • The law libraries should meet the international standard and at the same time to impart the quality of education and conduct impact-oriented research.
  • Now-a-days Law schools are considered as one of the institutions, which are constructed for profit making. This is seen in the cases where the colleges which do not acquire a recognition from the UGC. Only those law colleges making a profit out of this and not all colleges in India. It was perhaps because of this situation that the Supreme Court in Unni Krishnan, J.P.State of A.P.[29] expressed its concern and firmly laid down that “education cannot be allowed to be converted into commerce”. Thus this is degrading the standard of legal education.
  • Specialization in various branches of the law is necessary.
  • The law teachers should guide their students to prepare for bar examinations and for legal practice.
  • They should engage in a continuing dialogue with academics, practitioners, judges, licensing authorities, and the general public about how best to accomplish this goal.[30]
  • The law schools should clearly intimate the goals of their college to their students. And the legal education should be in such a way that the students at any time be readily available to solve the legal problems.
  • Law schools should shift from content-focused programs of instruction to outcomes-focused programs of instruction that are concerned with what students will be able to do and how they will do it, as well as what they will know on their first day in law practice.[31]
  • Law schools should help students acquire: [32]
  1. a) The attributes of effective, responsible lawyers.
  2. b) Including self-reflection and lifelong learning skills,
  3. c) Intellectual and analytical skills.
  • All students of law should know what law is all about. They should have both theoretical and practical knowledge in the legal subjects.
  • Professionalism should be the ultimate aim of the all the law colleges then alone the quality can be improved.
  • Finally, the introduction of the bar examination[33]is one of the correct methods for knowing the standard of legal education.

Thus the law is the backbone of our society and a necessary element of revolution. It is the only profession which deals with the major problems prevailing in the society. Doctor’s deals with medical problems, teacher’s deals with academic matters etc., but it is lawyers who deal with the entire society and its major problems.

There are some issues which need to be looked into for repairing holes in our current legal system such as emphasis should be laid on research and publication activities, need to reform curriculum at the earnest, trained faculty, imparting training based education, improvement of infrastructure as well as introduction of new revised syllabus and a uniform syllabus.[34] Introduction of law subjects at the school level as to ensure the basic knowledge of the law to students of all streams etc.[35]The legal education must be in such a way that it enables their lawyers to handle the legal problems prevailing in the society.

One thing the law teacher should be kept in mind is that they should be dedicated towards their work and they have a major responsibility that they have to produce the future lawyers, honest judges, and distinguished jurists.

Thus all people are governed by law and therefore a change in the quality of legal education is essential.  Thus the UGC (Prem Chand Jain & Anr. v. R K Chhabra,[36] the Supreme Court emphasized at length the role and responsibility of University Grants Commission vis-à-vis the regulation of standards of higher education in India) along with BCI(Bar Council of India v. Board of Management, Dayanand College of Law,[37] surveyed the statutory powers available to BCI under the provisions of the Advocates Act, as well as the Rules framed there-under, and concluded that BCI was concerned with the standards of the legal profession and legal education in the country) and central Government should propose certain functions to improve the standard of legal education from time to time. Thus the above said suggestions will be helpful for the development and growth of legal education.

The quality of legal education has a direct impact on the prestige of the legal profession

[1] http://dictionary.sensagent.com/Legal%20education/en-en/.

[2] https://www.legalbites.in/challenges-legal-education-21st-century/.

[3] Law Commission of India, 184th Report 2002.

[4] Ibid.

[5] INDIAN CONST.-seventh schedule.

[6] http://www.ebc-india.com/lawyer/articles/9803a1.htm.

[7] The University Grants Commission Act, 1956.

[8] Supra note 6.

[9] http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/BCIRulesPartItoIII.pdf.

[10] The Advocates Act, 1961- Section 49(d).

[11] Supra note 10.

[12] Bar Council of India rules, 1965.

[13] Ibid.

[14] https://web.archive.org/web/20080819185257/http://barcouncilofindia.nic.in/disk1/196125.pdf.

[15]  http://www.groundreport.com/Business/Bar-Examination-In-India-2010_1/2922905.

[16] V. Sudeer v. Bar Council of India, 1995 (1) S.C.C. 732 (India).

[17] Legal Education in a Changing World: Report of the Committee on Legal Education in Developing Countries, International Legal Centre New York.

[18] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_education_in_India#cite_note-4.

[19] RUSHDA PATHAN, LEGAL EDUCATION IN INDIA.

[20] IPC, 1860- Indian Statute.

[21] 1994 SUPPL (3) S.C.R. 217 (India).

[22] Writ Petition (Civil) Nos.295, 299, 346 and 525 of 2004, Writ Petition (Civil) Nos.565 of 2003, Civil Appeal Nos.5146, 5161, 5171, 5172, 5174, 5175, 5180, 5184, 5185, 5188, 5189, 5190, 5191, 5197 and 5198 of 2004.

[23] N..R. MADHAVA MENON, REFLECTIONS ON LEGAL AND JUDICIAL EDUCATION 78 (2009).

[24] Ibid.

[25] https://www.legalbites.in/challenges-legal-education-21st-century/.

[26] ROBIN K MILLS, LEGAL RESEARCH INSTRUCTION IN LAW SCHOOLS THE STATE OF THE ART, 633,(2nd Edn, ILI, New Delhi, 2001).

[27] http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/Improving-legal-education-in-India/article14783272.ece.

[28] Ibid.

[29] 1993 A.I.R. 2178, 1993 S.C.R. (1) 594 (India).

  [30] Prof (Dr) Tabrez Ahmad Legal Education,Challenges and Reforms in 21st Century https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291970174_Legal_Education_Challenges_and_Reforms_in_21st_Century-_By_Prof_Dr_Tabrez_Ahmad.

[31] supra note 31.

[32]Ibid.

[33] Supra note 17.

[34] http://www.irjcjournals.org/ijmssr/Sep2016/7.pdf.

[35] supra note 28.

[36] 1984 A.I.R. 981, 1984 S.C.R. (2) 883 (India).

[37] (2005) 2 S.C.C. 591 (India).