The Supreme Court refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking direction to the Centre and Bar Council of India (BCI) to form an Expert Committee to ascertain the feasibility of starting a 3-year Bachelor of Law Course after the 12th Standard, like Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce, and Bachelor of Art Courses.

The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala said, "You can just withdraw it."

At the outset, CJI, in a lighter vein, said, "Someone might ask, Why have a three-year course at all and allow practice (of law) right after high school?"

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, on behalf of the Petitioner, submitted, "In so far as engineering is concerned, after +12, you do four years and you are an Engineer, five years for law. I will tell your Lordship where the problem is coming, the problem is for girl children, because of the five-year course, they don't take this course..and the poor students."

The Petitioner was also present before the Court in person.

The CJI said, "The experience is that, over 50% of the students entering law school are girls. 70% of district judiciary are now girls."

"No, not from the poor sections, girls. United Kingdom(UK) also has only three years. I am only saying let them (BCI) consider. I am not saying to pass a Writ. Lordship may allow us to make a representation to BCI, let them consider," the Senior Counsel submitted.

To this, CJI said, "According to me, even 5 years is too less."

Singh (in a lighter vein) said, "My Lord's personal opinion; otherwise, actually, your Lordship will recall, we are from the era where we used to do 3 years plus 3 years, then it was reduced to 5 years. Now UK also has only 3 years after school."

"In UK, what it is, let it be," CJI said.

Subsequently, Singh sought permission to withdraw the PIL with liberty to move a representation to the BCI.

"No, no, don't do that. Mr. Singh. You can just withdraw," the CJI said.

"For the poor students, the five year course are very very harsh," Singh submitted.

"We require mature students to come in the profession. This 5-year law course has been very beneficial," the CJI remarked.

Consequently, the Court said, "You withdraw it."

In the PIL, Upadhyay stated that the five-year duration for law courses is unreasonable, arbitrary, and violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. He contends that this extended duration is not suitable for students and imposes a significant financial burden.

The PIL, filed through AoR Ashwini Kumar Dubey, submits that the students can easily study 15-20 subjects in 3 years, i.e., 6 semesters. "Therefore, the present duration of 05 years i.e. 10 semesters for Bachelor of Law Course is unreasonable, and the inordinate duration is arbitrary and irrational and hence violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution," the plea states.

Referencing late Jurists Fali S Nariman and Ram Jethmalani, the Writ Petition emphasizes that students should be able to commence their Advocacy careers by the age of 21. It also questions the necessity of the five-year integrated course, advocating for an earlier start to legal careers.

"The former law minister, the late Sh. Ram Jethmalani, completed his law degree at the age of 17 years and started his Law firm at the age of 18 years. Was there any 5 years LLB course to bar his progress and obscure his vision? There was none. The eminent jurist and former Attorney General, late Sh. Fali Nariman completed law at the age of 21 years. There are numerous examples of prodigies not being encumbered by a rigid system which focuses more on being the jack of all rather than being the master of one," the plea states.

Upadhyay also highlights disparities with other career paths, noting that civil servants can begin their careers immediately after undergraduate studies, whereas aspiring lawyers are required to complete five years of study after the 12th standard.

The plea urges that students are being cheated, and they don’t even know it. "Bachelor of Law (LLB) course can be compared with Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.), and Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), but not with the Bachelor of Engineering or Technology. Even if it is compared, then even the Indian Institute of Technology gives a B.Tech degree in 4 years," the plea asserts.

The PIL further prays that the Central government, the Bar Council of India, and the Consortium of the National Law Universities develop a comprehensive roadmap to attract top talent to the legal profession. "direct the Centre, Bar Council of India and Consortium of the National Law Universities to prepare a detailed roadmap to attract the best talent in the legal field in order to ensure fair trial and to secure right to speedy justice guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution," the prayer clause reads.

Cause Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India & Another [W.P.(C) No. 251/2024]