Law grads who passed board exams privately can be enrolled

By NT Bureau Published on Jul 25, 2018 10:30 AM IST

Chennai: The Madras High Court has made it clear that there was no bar on enrolling law graduates who had passed their Class X or XII board examinations privately.

The court held that candidates who have obtained the three year LLB degree from approved institutions established after getting their basic degree from universities established by statute shall not be refused enrolment.

A Full Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice R Subbaiah and Justice Abdhul Quddhose gave the order yesterday.

It allowed a batch of petitions challenging the decision of Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Puducherry to keep the petitioners' applications for enrolment pending on the ground they had cleared Class X or XII board examinations privately without attending regular classes in a recognised school.

In a 43-page detailed order, it, however, ruled that those who obtain basic degree through an Open University system without basic qualification of Class XII certificate or equivalent from a Board authorised to confer such certificates were not eligible for admission to the three year law course.

Quoting Legal Education Rules, the court said the language and tenor of Rules 5(a) and 5(b) read with the first proviso and the Explanation make it amply clear that pursuing a regular course was mandatory only for the immediately previous qualifying certificate and or the degree.

The Full Bench refused to accept an earlier decision of a division bench of the high court that a candidate who obtained the Class X and Class XII certificate without prosecuting a regular course would be ineligible for admission to the three year LLB course.

It noted there was a difference between open universities and other universities or boards in that some of these open universities enable candidates, who do not have the basic qualifications, to obtain higher qualifications straightaway.

In open universities, it may be possible for a candidate to obtain a post graduate degree or a three-year LLB degree without being a graduate or to obtain a graduate degree without having the Class XII certificate, the bench said.

It said the Bar Council of India, in its wisdom, framed the Legal Education Rules making a graduate degree through a regular course from a university, whose degree in law is recognised by it (Bar council) a mandatory eligibility criteria.

The bench further said had it been the intention of the BCI that for admission to LLB course a candidate would be required to obtain all the previous requisite degrees and certificates such as the Class X and XII certificates through a regular course, the rules would have specifically provided so.

The court said a recognised university or a recognised board issued a certificate, it was not for any other authority to question the certificate on the ground of ineligibility to obtain it until and unless the certificate was cancelled by an appropriate authority and/or by a Court of law.

To hold otherwise would be to open the Pandoras Box, for years later certificates might be questioned on grounds such as inadequate attendance, failure to clear internal test examinations.

"Once a degree is found to be authentic, it is not for the Bar Council to go behind the degree and enquire into the eligibility of the candidates to take admission...," the bench added.

The court directed that all applications for enrolment be dealt with expeditiously and not exceeding three months barring exceptional circumstances where the genuineness of a degree in itself was in doubt.