Turf war on legal education escalates as Law Ministry floats own Bill

Even as the turf war between the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Health and Family Welfare over regulation of higher education and research is yet to be sorted out, the Union Law Ministry has decided to establish its own regulatory body for higher legal education and research.

The Law Ministry has prepared a draft Higher Legal Education and Research Bill, 2010 that seeks to establish a National Commission for Higher Legal Education and Research — a seven-member body — that will regulate, specify norms and standards of academic quality for accreditation, and benchmark higher legal education institutions.

The Bill seeks to provide for regulation of various aspects of higher legal education and research; grant of recognition to law schools, colleges and institutions and revamping legal education to meet the needs and challenges of all sections of society.

The Human Resource Development Ministry has already prepared a draft Bill for setting up a National Commission on Higher Education and Research that has in its purview all fields of higher education including technical, legal, medical and agriculture. However, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has also prepared a draft of the National Council on Human Resources in Health which also proposes to regulate medical education and research. The National Commission for Higher Legal Education and Research is the third such regulatory body proposed to be set up by the government.

According to the draft Bill available with The Hindu, the Commission will promote accountability and discipline in the regulatory systems of higher legal education institutions, develop curriculum framework with specific reference to new or emerging or inter-disciplinary fields of law in addition to encouraging law universities to formulate a ‘code of good practices' in leadership, governance and management. At present, the Bar Council of India performs all these functions.

It shall take measures, by regulations, to determine, coordinate and maintain standards of higher legal education and research, and will promote autonomy within higher legal educational institutions and in the development of a framework for institutional accountability, apart from “encouraging law universities to innovate in higher legal education and research.”

Foreign institutions

The Commission will also regulate the entry and operation of foreign educational institutions in law in accordance with any law providing for such regulation for the time being in force.

There is a provision for establishing a general council which will have members from the Centres for Advanced Legal Studies and Research to be set up by the government, head of the Bar Council of India, representative of the State Bar Councils, Supreme Court Bar Association, National Law Universities (by rotation) and Indian Law Institute, and private law schools.

The general council will advise on the measures to be taken for enhancing access, inclusion and equity in higher legal education, measures to be taken for connecting higher legal education and research to the practice of profession, suggest measures to remove imbalances in the development of higher legal education, and adequacy of funding for higher legal education.

Collegium of scholars

There will also be a collegium of scholars that will comprise 25 Fellows who will be persons of integrity and eminence in higher legal education and research, a National Professor, eminent jurist or former Chief Justices of India. The collegium will aid, advise and make recommendations to the Commission for the determination, coordination, maintenance of standards in and promotion of higher legal education, recommend to the Commission a vision on the emerging trends in different fields of law.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 5:22:58 AM |

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