The Bar Council of India (BCI) told the Supreme Court that the 1-year LLM programme shall be replaced by a 2-year LLM programme only from the academic year 2022-23. The BCI further stated before the apex court that the BCI rules abolishing the 1-year LLM programme shall not be implemented in 2021.
Appearing before the bench of Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra assured that – “The BCI rules to abolish one-year LLM are proposed to be brought into force from the academic year 2022-2023”
The Consortium of National Law Universities was being represented by Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Post BCI’s agreement to postpone implementation one-year LLM regulations to 2022-23, Singhvi told the Court that this assurance of the BCI Chairman will remove the apprehensions of the Universities regarding this year.
Abolishing One-year LLM course – What transpired in the Supreme Court?
While arguing in the Court in support of this postponement, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi stated the following important points –
- Universities have already received almost 5000 applications for the 1-year LLM programmes advertised in January 2021. Dr. AM Singhvi said that a status quo order was therefore necessary, as the sudden notification of the new rules by the BCI would cause hardships to the students.
- Dr. Singhvi submitted that the entrance test conducted earlier by NLU shall now be held by the BCI statutorily. The Advocates Act 1961 gives the power to BCI only to regulate legal education in so far as it relates to qualifications for enrolment for practice of law. Since LLM is not a qualification for enrolment, the BCI does not have legal competence in this case.
- Only the UGC has the power to regulate the LLM courses.
- Dr. Singhvi further noted that the rules that are being challenged will abolish the applications received by 22 best universities who conduct an entrance exam for a one-year LLM course. He pointed out that in this case, not a single university has been consulted by the BCI.
- Talking about the general standard across the world, Singhvi said, “Across the world there is a 1-year LL.M programme.”
- 1-year LLM was initiated in India on the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission in 2012.
On 4 January 2021, the BCI had declared that it will abolish the one-year LLM course from the current year, and instead a 2-year programme shall be initiated. As per the rule, 2 years is supposed to be the standard duration of the LLM course throughout India. This issuing of new rules by BCI was then challenged by the NLU Consortium and two individual petitioners, Tamanna Chandan Chachlani and Rishabh Soni