BCI Scraps 1-Year LL.M, New Entrance Test to be Introduced 

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has announced its decision to scrap the one-year post-graduation degree programme in law (LL.M). The programme was introduced by the UGC (University Grants Commission) in 2013. 

As per a report, the Bar Council of India Legal Education (Post Graduate, Doctoral, Executive, Vocational, Clinical and other Continuing Education) Rules, 2020 notified on 2nd January 2021 that the postgraduate course of LLM (which offers a Master’s degree in law) will be of two years instead. The course shall be spread over 4 semesters. The notification also stated that the students aspiring to pursue law have to compulsorily complete their LLB degree (3 or 5 years) to pursue the LL.M course. The council has additionally proposed the introduction of a Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law for admission to LLM courses in all colleges and universities. 

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What are the New Rules?

1. Educational Tenure 

Since the current LL.M academic session has already started, the one-year LLM course will be abolished from the next academic session. This simply means that no Law University will be allowed to continue with the 1-year LL.M admission process from the next fresh graduate session. Universities and students will have to follow the new rule and conduct the LL.M course over a period of 2 years instead of 1 year.

2. Eligibility

As per the new rules published on 2nd January 2021, the postgraduate law degree (LLM) will be of 2 years and distributed in 4 semesters. No University would be allowed to award Master’s degree to students in any specialized branch of Law (which is offered in the Open System to any Graduate) such as International Trade Law or Human Right or Business Law without the compulsory entry-level qualification:

  • LL.B (Bachelor of Law)
  • BA.LL.B. or BBA.LL.B or B.Sc. LL.B (minimum of 5 years)

3. Entrance Test

The Bar Council has also proposed a new entrance test named Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law (PGCETL) for admission to masters-level law programmes. This rule states that students will be granted admission to LL.M programme only if they are shortlisted via PGCELT (Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law), which will be conducted by the BCI (Bar Council of India). 

Until the PGCETL is introduced, the current system will be followed by respective Universities. However, when BCI introduces PGCETL, it will become mandatory to admit the students shortlisted from the merit list of PGCETL.

4. LL.M with Foreign University 

The LLM degree obtained from a foreign university will be considered equivalent to LLM obtained in India only if the degree is obtained after completing LLB from any Indian or foreign university recognized in India. 

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Besides, the Council stated, “LL.M. degree obtained from a Foreign University that has been prosecuted without an equivalent LL.B. degree will not be considered equivalent to Indian LL.M.” 

5. 1-Year LL.M + 1-Year Visiting Professor = LL.M

Students obtaining a 1-year LL.M. degree after an LL.B. degree from any highly accredited Foreign University can be entitled to be appointed as a visiting professor in an Indian University. The appointment shall be for at least one year with a one-year teaching experience as a visiting faculty/internee faculty /clinical faculty.

6. Impact on CLAT or Common Law Admission Test – PG

Currently, the Consortium of National Law Universities conducts the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) to admit students to LLM programmes. When the new post-graduate common entrance test shall come to effect, it may replace other law admission tests like CLAT PG. Even though this information is unconfirmed, the application of this rule (when implemented later) may make it compulsory for all LLM aspirants to sit for the BCI-administered test.

7. Requirements for Exams

The new post-graduate programme course based on PGCETL is expected to begin in September. However, the dates for PGCETL entrance exams have not been released yet. 

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