Supreme Court stays Bar Council notification on age limit to obtain LLB, LLM degrees

Asmita Sarkar
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Aspiring lawyers may be able to apply for LLB and LLM degrees no matter what their age is, unlike the earlier notification from the Bar Council of India (BCI). The Supreme Court put a stay on the September 2016 notification by the BCI, which set an upper age limit of 22 years to apply for a law degree. 

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A Bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao  expressed their dissatisfaction at the interim notification by the BCI. The organisation had increased the age-limit to 22 years for the five-year course and to 45 years for the three-year course. A final decision in the case will be taken in the third week of July. 

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Senior advocate Sanjay Hedge and advocates Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Zoheb Hossain represented the petitioners. Concerns of those above the age of 22 years were not submitted. 

"If somebody is 23 or 24, then they cannot apply. On one hand, you promote legal education, on the other hand your committee prescribes age limit," the bench said. 

The court stayed the notification and will be hearing the case.There is now a stay on the September 17, 2016 notification pending decision and all consequential acts taken. 

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The BCI lawyer requested that the admission of the petitioners should be based on the outcome of the case, but the bench responded that it was inclined to the contrary. 

Justice Bobde remarked, "To the contrary we are inclined to say that it won't be subject to the outcome of this case."

The age cap was first introduced in 2008. Then the rule had said that the maximum age limit for LLB course was 20 years for general category students and 22 for SC/ST/OBC students. For post-graduate courses, the limit was 30 years for general category and 35 years for reserved categories. 

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After multiple petitions, the BCI had formed a one-man committee of advocate S Prabhakaran to find out about the validity of the notification it had issued. Prabhakaran found that the clause was against Article 14 of the Constitution and recommended its deletion. Following this, the BCI withdrew the notification, only to reintroduce it on September 17, 2016. 

Article 14 of the Constitution states that "the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India." 

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