Mumbai: Noting that law colleges meant exclusively for women students in and around the city deserved all the assistance from the authorities, the Bombay High Court has directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to conduct inspection and related formalities, without further delay, of one such proposed college in Thane.
A bench comprising justices B R Gavai and Bharati Dangre was hearing a petition filed by the Bombay Public Trust which has proposed to start a law college for women in Thane. The petitioner told the bench that while the state government had already approved its proposal, and the university concerned had also granted it the requisite permissions, the BCI was refusing to conduct an inspection of its premises to certify the infrastructure and law course that it will offer to the students.
The BCI on the other hand, told the court that one of its rules mandated that colleges seeking permission and certification from BCI must either own the premises on which the college was proposed to be set up, or, that they must secure it through a leave and license basis for a minimum period of 10 years.
In the present case, the BCI said, the leave and licence for the existing plot in Thane was only till December. The petitioner however, told the court that the existing college building was a temporary one and that it was constructing a permanent campus on another plot nearby. This construction work, the petitioner said, will be completed before December.
At this, the bench noted that the BCI was delaying the inspection unreasonably. “The petitioner had applied to the competent authority for starting a law college, which is exclusively for women. It is not in dispute that this is the only law college exclusively for women outside Greater Mumbai,” the bench said. “In this background, we find that the approach adopted by the Bar Council of India is totally hyper technical. When the petitioner is intending of having a law college, which is only for women, rather than rendering a helping hand the Bar Council appears to be acting as a hindrance in establishment of the said college,” the bench said.
“No doubt that the Bar Council of India would have supremacy in matters of legal education. However, at the same time, it cannot totally ignore the permission and affiliation granted by the State Government and University respectively,” the bench said. It directed the BCI to comply with a previous direction of the High Court asking it to conduct the requisite inspection. The bench also directed the petitioner to submit an undertaking before the court stating that the construction of the new campus will be completed before December 2018.