Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India passed an order asking the Bar Council of India (BCI) to review the rule of setting an upper age limit for admission in law courses.
The BCI proposed the Rules on Standards of Legal Education framed under the Advocates Act of 1961 in 2008. Clause 28 of Schedule III of the rules inflicted an upper age limit for prospective law students wherein the maximum age limit was 20 years for general category and 22 years for the SC/ST/OBC category students aspiring to join course of Bachelor’s in law. Likewise, the age limit for post graduate course was 30 years for general category and 35 years for reserved categories.
Post the matter was heard the Hon’ble Court noticed that there is no age to acquire education and observed that children from weaker section of the society would be disadvantaged due to the age limit rule.
The Bench comprising of Justices S.A Bobde and Sanjay Kishan Kaul ordered the BCI to review Clause 28 of the Rules on Standards of Legal Education. Further said, “We consider it appropriate in the interest of justice to permit the Bar Council of India to reconsider the age limit after hearing the various stakeholders, including the petitioner.”
After various attempts to challenge Clause 28, the BCI formed a committee comprising of one man (S Prabhakaran) to examine the validity of the provision. In opinion of the committee the provision was in contravention of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and suggested to delete it. Thereafter, in 2013 the BCI passed a notification and removed Clause 28.
Subsequently, a writ petition was filed by an advocate praying to quash the notification of removal of Clause 28 as it was in contravention of the amendment procedure under the Advocates Act and the petition was allowed by the Madras High Court.
The BCI filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, however, the decision by the Madras High Court was upheld.
Despite that, the High Courts of Bombay and Punjab & Haryana had struck down the rule and may courts have allowed the petitioners over the age limit to appear for entrance exams.
While hearing this petition, the Supreme Court of India had put a stay on clause 28 and now has directed the BCI to review the rule.