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Court ruling on selection of law college lecturers

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The State Government is bound to approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) seeking relaxation from the norm that every applicant to the post of lecturer in law colleges must have passed National Eligibility Test (NET), if there was a dearth of candidates possessing NET qualification, the Madras High Court Bench here has said.

A Division Bench of Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and R. Subbiah held that such relaxation could be obtained for a limited period so that all vacancies in law colleges across the State could be filled to ensure that a minimum of 20 hours of teaching per week was strictly enforced in the law colleges as per a direction issued by the High Court in another case on December 1, 2008. The ruling was passed while dismissing a writ appeal filed by 11 lawyers including B. Muthukumar and K. Diravianathan challenging an entry in Rule 4 (b) of the Special Rules for Tamil Nadu Legal Educational Service which insists on NET qualification as per the UGC norms and a consequential notification issued by the Teachers Recruitment Board on March 3, 2010.

The notification had been issued to fill up 29 posts of Lecturer (senior grade) and 16 Lecturer (senior grade) (pre-law) through direct recruitment of candidates who had cleared the NET. However, the petitioners, who possessed Master's degree in law with more than 55 per cent marks, claimed that insistence on NET was unnecessary as most did not possess such qualification.

On the other hand, the Director of Legal Studies, in his counter affidavit, stated that sufficient number of candidates with NET qualification had already submitted their applications. The Rules of Legal Education, 2008 framed by the Bar Council of India under the Advocates Act, 1961 clearly stated that law college faculty must possess UGC-prescribed qualifications.

Mr. Justice Vasanthakumar said that Rule 4 (b) of the Special Rules could not be held illegal as the High Court in another case had ruled that NET or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) qualification had been prescribed on a rationale basis and in public interest and also in tune with the national policy to improve education standards.

Nevertheless, the judge pointed out that the Director of Legal Studies had not submitted any particulars regarding the number of candidates who possessed NET qualification in each subject. Therefore, he ordered the Government to seek exemption from the UGC, if necessary, and complete the selection process within three months.

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