Standards of qualification of candidate to enroll as an advocate is to be decided by the BCI

Supreme Court: Dealing as to which authority has the power to recognize that the qualification is an equivalent qualification to a graduate degree for the purpose of taking admission in the course of graduate degree in Law, a bench of M.Y. Eqbal and A.M. Sapre JJ., upheld the decision of the High Court that such a power vests with the Bar Council and not any other professional/ academic body.

In the instant case, the Court firstly dealt with the question as to whether the professional course i.e., Licentiate of the Court of Examiners in Homoeopathy Medicines (LCEH) is equivalent to a graduation degree. The Court held that as per Section 13 of the Homoeopathy Central Council Act 1973, the medical qualifications granted by a university/ board/ institution included in the Second Schedule shall be recognized as medical qualifications only for the purpose of the Act and not for any other purpose, and therefore LCEH is not a bachelor degree but it is only a qualification to practice in homoeopathy medicine.

Secondly, the Court dealt with the question as to whether the decision of professional/ academic body shall be binding on the Bar Council to decide whether the qualification is equivalent qualification to a graduate degree for the purpose of admission in the course of graduate degree in law, and observed that various provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961 i.e., Section 7, 24 (1)(c)(iii) Section 49 (1); (d) and Rule 1(1)(c) in Part IV of the Rules thereunder makes it evidently clear that the BCI has the power to recognize universities, whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrollment as an advocate and that BCI is empowered to make Rules to prescribe standards for recognition of degrees.

The Court observed that pursuing law and practicing law are two different things. One can pursue law but for the purpose of obtaining license to practice, he or she must fulfill all the requirements and conditions prescribed by the Bar Council of India. The Court dismissed the appeal and concluded that the BCI does not find the professional course LCEH to be equivalent to a graduate degree, and therefore the appellant was denied the enrollment as an advocate, however the LL.B. degree secured by the appellant was not be withdrawn. Archana Girish Sabnis v. Bar Council of India2014 SCC OnLine SC 943decided on November 26, 2014.

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