CHENNAI: In a radical direction, the Madras high court on Tuesday asked the Bar Council of India to abolish the three-year law degree courses at the earliest, and retain only five-year course on a par with other professional courses like medicine and engineering.
Suggesting sweeping changes in the functioning of Bar Council of India (BCI), the court suggested handing over of the BCI’s functions to an expert body headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court permanently or till the Advocates Act is suitably amended.
Academicians, legal luminaries, social workers, retired police and IAS officers and doctors should be part of the committee, the court said.
Justice N Kirubakaran, passing further orders on a petition seeking to prevent entry of persons with criminal antecedents into the profession and to maintain purity of law courses, said: “This court hopes that the issue of criminalization of the profession is seriously taken note of by the Supreme Court and the central government and to redeem the profession from the clutches of persons with criminal background.”
In his 14- point directions, Justice Kirubakaran further directed the Centre to revisit the Advocates Act or introduce new provision prohibiting entry of criminals, and communal and extremist elements into the profession.
Making antecedent verification compulsory for law graduates, Justice Kirubakaran said that unless the cases are bailable or compoundable in nature, they should bit be enrolled at all.
Those facing charges punishable with the years of imprisonment should be given only provisional enrollment by state bar councils, he said.
Those who suffered conviction should not be enrolled at all, the high court said, adding that persons who had been dismissed or removed from service or left due to departmental proceedings too should not be enrolled.
The Bar Council of India should direct all law colleges to get police verification certificates of students before admitting them, and those with pending cases should not be admitted at all, he said.
Police, on their part, must send the antecedent verification certificates within three weeks to respective bar councils, justice kirubakaran said. The BCI should not conduct the next bar council elections in 2016 without prescribing minimum qualification like 20 years standing in the bar or a senior counsel not having any criminal background for candidates to contest in council polls.
The number of seats in law colleges should be drastically reduced as the population of advocates is increasing abnormally, Justice Kirubakaran said.
To ensure fairness in the working of the lawyers association, the judge said the council should give recognition and approval to only one association and that should be the oldest one.