1.7 million lawyers to boycott courts against bill

About 1.7 million lawyers across the country would boycott courts on July 11 and 12 to protest against a proposed bill which purportedly seeks to take away the autonomy given to Bar Council of India (BCI) to regulate legal profession and law academic courses.

The lawyers would also stage a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and take out a morcha to Parliament on the first day of the forthcoming Monsoon session to express their opposition to the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 V B Konde- Deshmukh, Chairman of Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, told a press conference here today.

"The Bill directly affects the vital and basic structure of Advocates Act, 1961, under which total autonomy and independence was given to BCI and state Bar Councils to regulate the legal profession and education," he said.

It proposes to take away the duties and functions entrusted to BCI and state Bar Councils and vests all these powers with a National Commission consisting of a few academicians, Konde-Deshmukh noted.

The Bill will deprive advocates of having a say in the formulation and implementation of policies involving legal education at the professional and educational levels, he said.

He blamed Union Human Resources Development Ministry for deterioration in legal education, saying the government law colleges are facing shortage of teachers.

Despite repeated suggestions made by Bar Council to increase the intake of teachers, HRD Ministry and Universities have not responded, Konde-Deshmukh maintained.

The Bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha last year, seeks to establish a National Commission which will regulate university education, including vocational, technical, professional and medical education. Lawyers want legal education to be out of the Bill's ambit.

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