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Should 80 year-olds be allowed to study law?

The Mumbai Mirror wrote about a gentleman this week who is "probably city's oldest law student" at 80 years of age. If so, he is lucky to have slipped through the age-barrier net that has been woven by the Bar Council of India (BCI).

Uddhav Alkari (not pictured) is an ex-employee of Madhya Pradesh State Secondary Education Board and the father of three children. According to tabloid Mumbai Mirror, he waited until his children were well settled to follow his dream of studying law.

He has had a tough time getting there, even without the BCI rules, as his 1967 exam scores were too low for law school admission and he had to get to law school in a round-about way.

In any case, hearty congratulations to Mr Alkari for his efforts and achievement.

However, despite most BCI members probably being of the same generation as Alkari, the body would probably not be pleased for him.

The Bar Council of India, Rules of Education, 2008 schedule III clause 28 stipulates that general category students seeking admission for BA (law) courses should not be above 20 while the age limit for the reserved category is 22 years.

The candidates for post-graduation course (LLB), in the general category should not be over 30 while for the reserved category the age limit is 35.

The Law Commission of India led by chairman A R Lakshmanan had also endorsed this rule.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court recently stayed all further proceedings in 12 High Courts on petitions challenging the Bar Council of India Rule fixing upper age limit for admission to LLB.

Delhi University Faculty of Law alumni Shilpi Gupta had studied with much older classmates and believes there is some value in the new BCI rule.

"A majority of students in our class belonged to the age group of 30 and above," she tells Legally India, "consisting of working professionals who were not interested in serious pursuit of law as a career, but rather hoped for advancement in their established fields."

"Therefore, BCI's mandate on imposing maximum age limit for admission to a law school is a welcome step. It will ensure that more seats are available for younger candidates for whom law is a preferred career option and not a tool for value addition."

Photo by Sukanto Debnath

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