Constitute Special Expert Teams To Conduct Surprise Visits, Shut Law Colleges Lacking Minimum Infrastructure: Delhi High Court To BCI
The Delhi High Court has directed the Bar Council of India to constitute special expert teams to conduct surprise visits of the colleges that lack minimum infrastructure and adequate facilities. The Court has further directed to close such colleges that lacks the minimum infrastructural facilities.
"…it is directed that the BCI should constitute special expert teams to conduct surprise visits of the colleges that lack minimum infrastructure and adequate facilities. The inspection reports of the colleges teaching law on its website shall be uploaded within one month of such inspection. If any colleges upon such inspection are found to be lacking minimum infrastructural facilities, then the BCI must take immediate steps to close such colleges. This is a much-needed therapy that ought to be introduced to cure the maladies that legal education is suffering from.", the Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed.
The Court expressed concern over the condition of legal education in India including the status of infrastructure. The Court remarked that there are law colleges where one just has to go, pay the fees and the rest is taken care off.
"There are law colleges where you may not have sufficient faculty, no classrooms, no library, etc. It is unfortunate that this Court is being constrained to remark that there are law colleges where you have to just go and pay the fees, the rest is taken care off. It is surprising to state that how can a legal profession or how can we as stakeholders of legal education tolerate this kind of situation. It is a great responsibility cast upon the Bar Council of India to shut down such institutions.", the Court observed.
The Court emphasized that proper standards of education cannot be achieved unless there are adequate infrastructural facilities in the campus like classrooms, libraries, laboratories, well-equipped teaching staff of requisite caliber and a proper student-teacher ratio.
The Court further observed, "It is high time that all the stakeholders led by the BCI, including Senior Advocates, Academicians and even former Judges of Supreme Court/High Courts may be requested to take upon themselves the task of reforming the status of Legal Education in India."
"...any attempts at commercialisation of education especially that of legal education while imperilling the qualitative imparting of education must be derided and frowned upon", the Court held also.
The Court made these observations while dealing with a set of writ petitions seeking issuance of direction to the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University to allocate 110 seats to the Ideal Institute of Management & Technology with respect to BA LLB Five Years' Integrated Course for Academic Sessions 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.
The petitioner institute- Ideal Institute of Management & Technology had made a representation before the Respondent-University for grant of 110 seats instead of 85 as akin to the previous years.
However, upon failing to receive any relief from the university, a writ petition was filed before the High Court.
Senior Advocate HS Phoolka appeared for the petitioners whereas Advocate Ekta Sikri represented Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. Directorate of Higher Education, Govt. of NCT of Delhi was represented by ASC Sameer Vashisht.
The Respondent-University had contended that the petitioner-institute didn't had adequate space to accommodate 110 students, as per the approved/sanctioned building plan of the premises as sanctioned by the DDA, the institute can have the highest intake of 85 seats.
It was further argued that the institute proposes to use the area of basement to meet the deficit which is not permissible under the existing rules and guidelines.
On the other hand, the petitioners submitted that it has a basement in the building and basement can be used for conducting classes and the area of the basement can be considered towards the Floor Area Ratio.
The High Court noted that the area of basement can be included in the FAR only when the same is used for the activity for which the necessary sanctions and clearances have been taken from the concerned authorities.
"…the petitioner institute has failed to show that the institute has necessary clearance from the statutory bodies for the usage as being sought for…", the Court noted.
The Court also observed that as per the present sanctioned plan submitted by the Institute, the basement is shown for the usage of "car parking".
Therefore the Court held thus "…the petitioner college is eligible to use the basement only for the purpose of car parking until its proposed building plan is sanctioned and fire safety certificate which is a pre-requisite for having the basement included in the total covered area for FAR available with the institute by the JAC. Since, the petitioner institute lacks all the pre-conditions discussed hereinabove, the question of allowing the basement in the FAR does not arise.".
The Court noted that an additional space of 562.5 square metres shall be required for admitting 25 students in each batch of the said Course.
"It is evident that in case 25 additional seats are allowed, a total area of 3813.75 square metres will be required by the institute, which is not being met by the Petitioner Institute at present. Therefore, on the basis of the space available and the sanctioned building plan issued by the DDA whereby the usage of the basement for academic purposes is not permissible, the Petitioner Institute thus cannot be allowed the prayers made herein.", the Court noted.
Therefore, the Court held that the basement area cannot be used for educational classes. Consequently, the Court dismissed the petitions.
However, the Court observed that since the students, in addition to the sanctioned capacity, were admitted in the previous academic sessions owing to an interim orders of the Court, the Court directed the Respondents to maintain status quo regarding the already admitted students in previous academic session.
Cause Title- New Millennium Education Society & Anr v. Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University & Anr