Private law colleges is the need of the hour
Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
There is a felt need for a new policy on private law colleges in Tamil Nadu
Future is theirs: The working of democracy requires a robust legal system, of which competent and ethical lawyers are the backbone.
In 2007, a total of about 1,350 graduates, who had obtained the law degree from colleges situated outside Tamil Nadu, had enrolled themselves with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry as advocates.
That the State did not have any new private law college in the past 24 years is the reason why hundreds of students from Tamil Nadu migrate to other States in search of a law degree. The last private law college in Tamil Nadu was started in 1984.
Even now, the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu maintains an “uncompromising stand” that no private college is permissible in the State. Not surprisingly, the Salem-based Central Law College, started in 1984, remains the only private law school in the State till date.
“When there is no territorial embargo for a law graduate to enrol as an advocate and commence practice in any court within the country, the attempts of a section of lawyers to deny students of an affordable and quality law degree from private colleges makes little sense,” rued a jurist, himself a graduate from a law college in a neighbouring State.
Consider this: As on date, the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu recognises more than 60 private law colleges in Andhra Pradesh. Pursuant to an intense clean-up drive by the Bar Council of India, an equal number of colleges which lacked competence and infrastructure were forced to wind up operations recently.
Similarly, Karnataka has over 85 private law colleges, with the Bangalore University alone accounting for more than 35 colleges.
A senior office-bearer of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, recounting his experience in a neighbouring State, said he and his colleagues were nearly lynched by a gang when they had visited a private law college seeking details such as admission procedure, curriculum and examination details from the institution.
“The Council must amend its stand and permit deemed universities and private institutions of repute to start law courses in Tamil Nadu, where we can maintain a tab on them.
The Council can always put its foot down and ensure quality whenever these institutes deviate from mandatory requirements,” he said.
R.K. Chandramohan, chairman, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, reiterating the Council’s opposition to “surrendering legal education to private players,” said the statutory body could not be blind to the possibility of legal education drifting away from the reach of common people. However, senior counsel K.M. Vijayan said knowledge and education were the sole factors responsible for the prosperity of the middle class now.
Therefore, it is untenable to permit any condition or rule that interfered with people’s right to acquire quality knowledge from any lawful source, he said, adding “it is their fundamental right.”
With seven law colleges, including the University Law College in Chengalpattu, and the School of Excellence in the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University finding it difficult to accommodate a large number of aspirants, it is hardly surprising to see students joining law courses in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, a senior advocate said. The fact that not all these candidates are from affluent families is one more reason for considering the case of deserving private institutions to offer law degrees in Tamil Nadu, he added. Already, at least two Deemed Universities have evinced interest in starting a law college, and one of them even has put up the necessary infrastructure in place. Though they had won a round of litigation and scored a victory over the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, the chances of them starting the courses in 2008 is remote as the Bar Council has preferred an appeal against the High Court order, and the Special Leave Petition is pending in the Supreme Court. Tamil Nadu can continue to be an island in respect of private participation on the legal education front only till the apex court settles the issue once and for all.
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