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CLAT age limit challenge: 57 aspirants & twice winning lawyer in HC tomorrow (but things different this time)

Lawyer already has two successful CLAT age limit challenges under her belt but facts back then were different

CLAT sided with BCI's age limit: But can this petition by 57 students and one seasoned challenger win?
CLAT sided with BCI's age limit: But can this petition by 57 students and one seasoned challenger win?

A petition of 57 aspiring national law school students is set to get its first hearing before the Allahabad high court tomorrow (17 November), with advocate Sushmita Mukherjee challenging the Bar Council of India (BCI) and Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) age limit of 20 years.

Mukherjee told us that the matter was originally listed yesterday but that Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra had recused himself because he happened to be a member of a BCI panel. The matter was now listed for tomorrow (17 November), although no court has yet been assigned.

Mukherjee is a seasoned challenger of LLB age limits, having won a favourable judgment in 2015 in Devasheesh Pathak & 20 others vs Bar Council of India, and an interim order in 2013 in Kanha vs Bar Council of India, on behalf of students challenging the age limit (read the respective judgment and order at the bottom of this story).

She explained that she had been teaching CLAT students for five years, which is how she had become involved in the cases, so much so that this time, more than 200 petitioners had just approached her from “all over the country”.

“I’ve actually been entertaining the calls, and made my office people contact [the petitioners and] who’s filing and who’s not,” she said, and joked: “It’s been a very tiring thing, tracking the students is something else.”

However, this time the case will be different. In 2013, the BCI had withdrawn its age limit notification yet colleges and the CLAT were still following the rule. But this time, it has been the BCI itself that has passed the age-limit rule again.

“We have a good case and students are aggrieved,” she added. “I have challenged the notification of BCI and also relief as per the CLAT also.

"We want a direction to the CLAT authorities to remove the age limit,” Mukherjee said.

The return of the age limit

2017’s Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) convenor, CNLU Patna, has now confirmed that it’s implementing the Bar Council of India (BCI) resolution to ban students younger than 20 from taking the competitive exam, noting on its website:

It is hereby clarified that in conformity with the judgement of Hon`ble Supreme Court and the resolutin no.- BCI:D:1519(LE:Cir.)-6 dated 17.09.2016 of the Bar Council of India the Core Committee Clat-2017 has restored the upper age limit for Clat-2017.

“Officially and very clearly CLAT has brought back the age bar. No one born before 2nd July 1997 will be able to take CLAT 2017. For OBC/SC/ST it is not before 2nd July 1995,” commented CLAT mentor Rajneesh Singh. “Cases has been filed against this decision and it seems very difficult that CLAT will be able to defend this.”

“I personally feel that this is an injustice to all those who took a drop as this decision was taken in June-July. Keeping the age bar as 21 years would have been good but at least they should have allowed for CLAT 2017,” he said.

Devasheesh Pathak vs Bar Council of India (BCI) (PDF)

Kanha vs Bar Council of India (BCI) (PDF)

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