Indian Student’s Law Degree Invalid In Canada Due To BCI Approval Issue

Indian Student’s Law Degree Invalid In Canada Due To BCI Approval Issue

The student’s law degree from MGM Law College, Navi Mumbai, was told Canadian authorities do not recognise her degree.

Simple VishwakarmaUpdated: Sunday, April 21, 2024, 08:44 PM IST
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Garima Randhawa, a law student from Mumbai, was shocked when she discovered her degree from Mahatma Gandhi Mission (MGM) Law College in Navi Mumbai is not valid in Canada. Canadian authorities revealed to her that her college is not affiliated to the Bar Council of India (BCI) list resulting in her not being able to practice law in Canada. Despite completing her Bachelor of Law degree in 2015 and obtaining a certificate of practice from the BCI, she faced obstacles.

College fails to meet BCI conditions

The Free Press Journal (FPJ) contacted Ashish Deshmukh, a member of the BCI, Maharashtra, who explained that the college failed to meet BCI's terms and conditions since 2013, particularly regarding infrastructure requirements. He said, “There is a position that the college has not fulfilled the terms and conditions of the Bar Council of India. Since 2013, they have not sent the BCI the compliance letter. Affiliation is given to the college on some conditions. And they have not replied to the BCI that they have complied with all the conditions.”

Highlighting the issue he said, “One of the most important conditions is that they have to build a separate building for the law. But till date, they have not informed the Bar Council whether they have constructed the building or not, though they have deposited their inspection fee to the BCI it is not necessary that only deposition of the affiliation fee is sufficient for getting an affiliation from the BCI. They have to comply with all the rules and regulations.”

College assures working to meet BCI regulations 

In response, Sheela S Hosamani, the Principal of MGM Law College, assured that the college was working towards compliance with BCI regulations for the benefit of students. “Now the process is going, for students' favour and for students' betterment and welfare, the college is now filling out the compliance. We are in process,” Hosamani told the FPJ.  

She emphasised ongoing efforts to address the compliance issues raised by the BCI. “I can only say that compliance has already started, we are in process. As early as possible that student will get justice for that we are on the path. We have paid the inspection fees. We are working on the compliance given by the BCI,” she further added. 

Indian law graduate's struggle to practise in Canada

Randhawa's situation became public when she was denied a Certificate of Qualification by the National Committee of Accreditation (NCA) in Canada. Despite her qualifications and years of legal practice in India, her degree's lack of recognition by the BCI hindered her prospects. She recounted her educational and professional journey, expressing her desire to practice law in Canada for personal reasons. 

She said, “I passed out of law school in 2015. Following my graduation, I pursued a five-year law programme at MGM Law College, Navi Mumbai. During the period from 2011 to 2015, I completed my studies. I pursued my master's degree in law from Mumbai University.” 

“I got enrolled as an advocate from the Maharashtra and Goa Bar Council. Additionally, the Bar Council of India issued my certificate for practice in 2016. Consequently, I have spent the past eight years in India. Initially, for six years, I practised as a litigation lawyer. Afterward, I transitioned to corporate and served as a legal manager in a bank,” Randhawa told the FPJ.

She further added, “For personal reasons, my family decided to shift to Canada. So the main concern is I wanted to get certified as a lawyer in Canada also. Indian degrees are also recognised in Canada. I just had to take certification exams when I applied to the authority here in Canada.”

During the assessment process, she came to know that her degree wasn’t recognised. “They are not recognising my degree because the Bar Council of India website shows the lists uploaded in 2023. There is a list of colleges, which are approved and not approved from the BCI. In that my college MGM Law College is not approved from 2009,” 

After receiving the letter in February, Randhawa approached BCI but got no response. She said, “I have approached the Bar Council of India via email but I have got no reply from the BCI. I tried every possible way, I tried calling BCI but nobody was entertaining me.”

Amid this turmoil, Randhawa approached the college and requested an explanation after receiving the letter in February 2024. "The college did give me all the documentation proving they paid all the fees in 2013 when the last inspection was completed," Randhawa remarked.

They have paid the inspection costs till 2024, and they do so annually. According to the college, the previous inspection took place in 2013. After making a few recommendations to the college, after that there has been no update from BCI.

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