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BCI culls 50 law schools in first crack-down

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has rejected applications to renew the licences of approximately 50 law colleges at its meetings over the past weeks, as part of chairman Gopal Subramanium’s stated aim to reduce the total number from more than 900 to less than 200.

A BCI insider told Legally India that at the BCI meetings of 22 and 23 August, as well as on last weekend’s meetings on 3 and 4 September, the BCI decided not to renew the licences of between 45 and 50 colleges.

The criteria for disqualificaiton was a “very basic minimal benchmark” said the BCI source, particularly focusing on whether faculty had the basic qualifications to teach.

Decisions on whether to disqualify a college or not were purely taken on the basis of materials submitted by the college itself.

The source added that most of India’s law colleges would now have to reapply for their license every year.

It is understood that the BCI has not reached a final decision on what will happen to students enrolled at the 50 colleges that are to be shut. The person with knowledge of the decision said: “We are in the process of identifying larger law colleges in some state which have potential to merge other law colleges into themselves.”

He also added that the requirements had been temporarily relaxed for colleges in some North Eastern states in light of the generally lower quality of legal education there, although such colleges were given an ultimatum to improve.

The BCI’s chairman and solicitor general Subramanium was not available for comment at the time of going to press. However, Legally India reported in July that he was aiming to consolidate around 700 of India’s 913 law colleges into a total of 175.

At the time of going to press Legally India was unable to obtain a list of the law colleges, although the BCI insider said that the schools did not include well-known institutions.

In future the BCI would institute an online application form for colleges to seek accreditation, which would include uploading videos of a college’s lectures to enable the BCI to take a call on the quality of teaching.

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