Shut down letter-pad law colleges: HC
Chennai: If Madras high court has its way, about 85% of the country’s 1,200 law colleges will have to be shut down to “maintain the sanctity of the legal profession”.
The kangaroo court menace by brief-less lawyers is due to ‘letter pad’ law colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka that churn out law graduates in thousands, said the court, adding that the number of law colleges in India should be brought down to around 175 from the existing 1,200-plus, as suggested by the former chairman of Bar Council of India, Gopal Subramanium.
Justice N Kirubakaran, pained at the fact that two groups of lawyers were engaged recently by Sriperumpudur-based Annai Medical College to take physical possession of the premises, said: “A large number of candidates have purchased law degrees from the letter pad colleges functioning in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These people who purchase law degrees from letter pad institutions prefer only to indulge in ‘katta panchayat’ under the guise of resolving the civil disputes.”
Holding the Bar Council of India (BCI) responsible for indiscriminate doling out of permissions to set up new law colleges, the judge said that in 2010 Gopal Subramanium had said that the requirement of law colleges in India was only 175. At that time, the nation had only 800 colleges. However, between 2012 and 2014, the number of law colleges rose to 1,200.
On what basis the BCI granted approval for so many colleges, he asked, adding: “Is there any survey conducted by BCI or Union ministry of law and justice to know the actual requirement of lawyers?”
Why should Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have 200 and 125 law colleges (respectively), asked the judge, adding: “Many persons, without even attending the colleges, are able to get law degrees and some are using the degrees as a shield to hide their criminal activities.”
In this regard, Justice Kirubakaran said time had come for BCI to make biometric attendance system mandatory in law colleges and also create a centralised portal of the teaching staff details across India. The BCI should emulate the Institute of Chartered Accountants and keep the pass percentage at only 7% to 8% in the qualifying examinations, he said.
Justice Kirubakaran said: “If such is the situation inside the court, one cannot imagine the position outside the court.”