New Delhi, Aug. 3: The tussle between the Bar Council of India and Kapil Sibal’s ministry over the control of legal education has been sorted out, law minister Salman Khurshid said today.
He said the Bar Council would continue to exclusively oversee those law degrees that entitle the holders to practise in courts.
All other law degrees —such as those combining law and physics or law and mathematics — will come under the ambit of an education super-regulator, as proposed in a bill moved by the human resource development minister.
The holders of these degrees cannot practise in courts but are expected to be involved in academics, research, and work on intellectual property rights issues such as patents and trademarks.
So far, the Bar Council has been the apex body in legal education, according recognition to all law degrees. It has in recent years spearheaded lawyers’ agitations to stall the higher education bill, now pending with a standing committee after its introduction in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bar Council has been arguing that the bill runs counter to the Advocates Act of 1861, which mandates the central and state bar councils to inspect law colleges and ensure standards.
Khurshid sought to end the controversy today, saying the BCI had agreed to split its control over law degrees with the proposed super-regulator.
The law minister also said the government was considering changing the system of judicial appointments through a constitutional amendment.
A court collegium now appoints the higher judiciary, which means that only judges select and appoint judges. Since the system was put in place by a court judgment, the only other option before the government was to seek a review of the judgment.
“The government feels that it should be done through a constitutional amendment,” Khurshid said.
In the new system, the selectors are expected to also include chief ministers, some other ministers and eminent citizens for high court judges; and the Prime Minister, some other ministers and eminent citizens for Supreme Court judges.
Khurshid said the judicial accountability bill would ensure that judges facing impeachment proceedings cannot pre-empt the move by resigning.
In two recent instances, Justice Soumitra Sen and Justice P.D. Dinakaran resigned their posts to block their impeachment by Parliament. Sen faced charges of misappropriating funds as the receiver for a Calcutta court and Dinakaran was accused of land-grab and financial malfeasance.
Khurshid said Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur would soon have their own, full-fledged high courts instead of merely hosting benches of Gauhati High Court. He said the government would soon hold all-party consultations on electoral reforms.
The Centre is also in the process of introducing a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to create an All India Judicial Service to ensure that bright young people are appointed judges, the minister said.