Observing that the condition of legal education, including its infrastructure, is nothing but worrying, the Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to constitute special expert teams to conduct surprise visits to law colleges in the country. Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that BCI shall upload such inspection reports on its website within one month and also take immediate steps to close those colleges that are found lacking minimum infrastructural facilities.

While lamenting the commercialization of education, the judge added that these steps ought to be introduced to “cure the maladies that legal education is suffering from” and that it was surprising how the stakeholders of legal education could tolerate such a situation. The court’s order was passed on petitions by a private law college here on the issue of increasing the intake of students for its BA LLB 5-year integrated course.

The condition of legal education including the status of infrastructure is nothing but worrying. There are law colleges where you may not have sufficient faculty, no classrooms, no library, etc,” stated the court.

“It is unfortunate that this Court is being constrained to remark that there are law colleges where you have to just go and pay the fees, the rest is taken care of. It is surprising to state how can a legal profession or how can we as stakeholders of legal education tolerate this kind of situation. It is a great responsibility cast upon the Bar Council of India to shut down such institutions,” it observed. Stating that BCI was the regulator of legal education, the court ordered: it is directed that the BCI should constitute special expert teams to conduct surprise visits of the colleges that lack minimum infrastructure and adequate facilities.

The inspection reports of the college teaching law on its website shall be uploaded within one month of such inspection. If any colleges upon such inspection are found to be lacking minimum infrastructural facilities, then the BCI must take immediate steps to close such colleges.

The court asserted that the relevant BCI Rules themselves mandate that any institution imparting legal education would have to comply with the minimum standards of infrastructure and opined that before increasing the strength of students, it is essential that the existing infrastructure is upgraded in colleges.

Therefore, in the present case, the court said, classes or any educational activity cannot be allowed to function in the basement of the petitioner college.

The court emphasised that proper standards of education cannot be achieved unless there are adequate infrastructural facilities on the campus like classrooms, libraries, laboratories, well-equipped teaching staff of requisite calibre, and a proper student-teacher ratio. Commercialization of education is another bane that the sector in India is suffering from. One such manifestation of profiteering in this noble profession is in the form of enrolling additional students in each coming batch without upgrading the existing infrastructure, it said.

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