The Bombay High Court passed its verdict in a case challenging the validity of Rule 2(xxiv) of the Rules of Legal Education, 2008. The said rule prevents the functioning of centres of legal education without obtaining regular approval of the Bar Council of India. It defines the term “regular approval” as an approval for a period, not more than five years. The rule also applies to those colleges which were granted permanent approval before 2008.
Babasaheb Ambedkar College of Law and Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University challenged the validity of the rule. The petitioners argued that the Advocates Act, 1961, does not empower BCI to make rules having retrospective effect. The colleges sought a declaration that the law colleges were not required to seek any fresh approval as they have been granted with permanent approval earlier. However, the court observed that permanent approval granted before 2008 would be an existing right and not a vested right.
The Court observed that BCI has the onus of promoting and ensuring the provision of quality legal education in the country and thus it has been granted the power to frame rules for the universities to follow. The Court went on to say, “This rulemaking power would thus include the power to modify existing rules with a view to maintain and improve the standards of legal education in Universities.” It accordingly dismissed the petition and upheld the validity of the rule.