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Prof Menon sides vs Bar Council in education reform spat

Prof Madhava Menon has rallied behind the ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), which has campaigned for curtailing the Bar Council of India's (BCI) legal education remit.

Menon, the influential educator who founded Bangalore's national law school, told Legally India: "There is no issue there. In fact, we had the round table conference with the HRD minister, which the Bar Council of India seem to have boycotted.

"But this is meaningless because the HRD ministry has a mandate of higher education and it has to look at legal education not only for the purpose of preparing lawyers for the bar, legal education is a necessity for a democratic country for the success of rule of law."

He explained: "Suppose if the HRD ministry were to recommend paralegal education or liberal education in BA, B.Com, BSC courses with a law subject or recommend legal education in the higher secondary school for responsible citizenship, how would that concern the Bar Council of India?”

The BCI has been strongly opposed to HRD minister Kapil Sibal's plans to bring legal education under the regulation of the HRD ministry. The BCI called it a "direct interference" in its functioning.

Sibal responded yesterday by saying that the HRD was considering introducing law as an undergraduate subject and bring about other radical reforms, despite "vested interests" opposing them.

Sibal also added, as reported by the Times of India: "We want [the BCI] on board. We want their suggestions. Putting up resistance to reforms with an antiquated mindset would not help anyone's cause."

Menon commented: "To my mind legal education in a country like India requires 5-6 different types of legal education and the education of lawyers for litigation and transaction lawyers is a small yet significant component of the total legal education."

He argued that there was no other agency other than the HRD that could take care of such a broad spectrum of legal education, adding: "The BCI is confining itself to those who want to join the Bar and it is known that everybody who graduates does not join the bar."

Check LegallyIndia.com next week for the full interview with Prof Menon, in which we discuss the future of legal education and the legal industry. And LLM degrees.

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