Age no bar to study law as Bar Council withdraws cap

Soon, age will not be a hindrance to law courses as the Bar Council of India (BCI) has withdrawn its earlier order restricting the age to 20 years for the five-year law course and 30 years for the three-year law course.

After a five-year-long legal battle challenging the age restrictions to study law, the colleges in the State can now breathe easy.

The BCI, on September 28, 2013, withdrew its notification issued on September 14, 2008, regarding the age restriction. The BCI had formulated the rules fixing an age limit of 20 years for the five-year law course for candidates under general category, while it was 22 years for candidates seeking admission under the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

The rules, known as Rules of Legal Education 2008, had prescribed a cap of 30 years for the general category candidates seeking admissions to the three-year law course, while candidates seeking admissions under the SC/ST category were given a concession of five years.

“The rules were framed to ensure quality law education across the country,” recollects S L Bhojegowda, vice chairman, BCI.

However, following a petition by several law colleges in Karnataka and other parts of the country, the rules were stayed by the respective High Courts.

Resolution passed

The matter reached the Supreme Court as the BCI sought transfer of cases there. Following the Supreme Court directions, the BCI formed a committee to modify the rules. The committee, headed by S Prabhakar, submitted its report to the BCI.

A resolution was passed to withdraw the notification on September 28, 2013.

Accordingly, the BCI has now withdrawn the notification. “In the larger interest, in many states after due deliberations, opinion has been formed that Clause 28, Schedule III, Rule II of the Rules of Legal Education, 2008, is ultra vires, unconstitutional and against the principles of natural justice. In such circumstances, keeping in view the broader aspect and aforesaid reasons, it has been withdrawn,” the gazette notification dated September 28, 2013, says.

Notification withdrawn

Though the notification has been withdrawn almost a year ago, not many students or the law colleges are aware of this. “Many students have been complaining to the Bar Council about not being admitted to the course, citing its age restrictions. We are informing the colleges about the change in rules,” said Bhojegowda.

“We have sent the gazette notification to the universities. In Karnataka, all law colleges come under the Law University in Hubli. In other parts of the country, the respective universities have been informed about the notification. They have to communicate the same to the colleges. Maybe, there is some communication gap in this process,” said Bhojegowda.

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