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One of BJP 75 key manifesto pledges: Grow ‘premier law institute’ seats by 50% • No mention of liberalisation, natch • Cong not much for lawyers

BJP wants to existing law colleges to get bigger
BJP wants to existing law colleges to get bigger

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has vowed in its manifesto that it would increase the number of seats in “premier law institutes”, even going so far as to highlight it as the 17th in its catchy “75 Milestones for India @75”.

According to the manifesto:

We will take all necessary steps to increase the number of seats in Central Law, Engineering, Science and Management institutions by at least 50% in the next five years. We will also motivate States to accordingly increase the number of seats in State institutions.

Of course, the central government has only limited sway over state institutions, such as national law universities (though, as it suggests, it can certainly “motivate” a bit influence via the UGC and other channels).

However, the Delhi Universities, Banaras Hindu University and others could see a ballooning of law batches if / when the BJP wins.

One question is though: are there enough good quality teachers so that these law colleges will not sink into the swamp of mediocrity caused by years of regulatory and government neglect?

No specific mention of law schools Institutes of National Importance.

Nor, coming to think of it, of liberalisation of the legal market either to foreign law firms or foreign universities.

It looks like Narendra Modi’s appetite, if it even still exists for liberalisation, will be kept under wraps (which makes sense: there are few votes to be won by advocating for foreigners).

More manifesto highlights via Indian Express, or full PDF Manifesto available here.

Congress manifesto: Nice on paper

We also had a quick skim of the Congress Party’s manifesto, which has been widely covered and includes quite a few socially progressive promises to improve protection of civil liberties, although no one actually expects that they can win, right?

Nothing in Cong’s manifesto that purely effects the legal profession per se, but we’ve picked out a few highlights.

Promising to end tax terrorism has been on manifestos in forever and, unsurprisingly, is usually insisted on most heartily by the opposition:

10. In the last 5 years, tax authorities have been given extraordinary discretionary powers that have throttled industry and come to be described as ‘tax terrorism.’ Investigative agencies have mis-interpreted the laws and have instilled fear among businesspersons. Congress will review these discretionary powers and arbitrary actions and take steps to allow industry and business to function with a large degree of freedom.

Hmm. Then there is the below, which on a very wide reading could leave room for “market economy” liberalisation of the legal market, though realistically, probably not:

Congress promises to review all laws, rules and regulations governing investments within 3 months. Instruments that are inconsistent with a market economy or outdated or obstructionist will be repealed.

Finally, Cong promises an independent Judicial Complaints Commission. While good on paper, the judiciary has been defanged so effectively by the current government after its battles with the collegium, that this almost seems like adding insult to injury:

Congress will establish, by law, an independent Judicial Complaints Commission to investigate complaints of misconduct against judges and recommend suitable action to Parliament.

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