Three Years of mandatory practice for the judiciary: Should BCI rethink?
Author : Pallavi Mohta
The Bar Council of India has filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking to make atleast three-year practice at the Bar mandatory to become a judicial officer. The BCI stated judicial officers lacking practical experience as advocates were largely incapable and inept in handling matters.
Challenges with the 3 year mandate and why recruiting legal minds is essential
Many problems have been associated with this mandatory practice for three years. First and the pertinent issue is that there is a threat to the independent nature of the judiciary as well as the transparency in the appointment of judicial officers. The basic idea of three years of practice at the Bar does not guarantee that it will be a qualifying factor for the position.
Another issue will be the outcomes from three years practice which might be full of assumptions. The experiences that the BCI spoke of do not match the reality of Bar faced by the young lawyers in court. If considered economically, such a move could increase the financial dependence of many young professionals as many of them may not have the necessary legal background to help them explore and flourish at the courts. The CCI should also think about the business environment of the applicants.
Lastly, there is yet another important issue in the courts that is the large number of pending cases. The BCI’s argument is quickly defeated when it states that such three-years of practice will accelerate the courts’ efficiency. Already there are not enough courtrooms and judges in India to address the pending cases, the three-year practice will inevitably escalate the issue.
The BCI supports the mandatory three-year rule of practice, but has not considered providing practical knowledge of law to students who choose it as a career. The BCI and UGC should propose intermediate solutions and access should be granted to law students to experience judicial situations. The BCI’s move has discouraged the law students to choose judiciary as a career as it places the burden directly on law students to find their own solutions.
BCI called the attitude of freshly recruited judicial magistrates as impractical as they didn’t have any prior experience of Bar Practice. Legal education in our country is regulated by the BCI. From licensing law schools to maintaining quality education for students, as well as the functioning of the curriculum structure of law schools, everything is managed by BCI. The most important question arises on BCI’s ability to maintain the quality of legal education as after 5 years or 3 years of LLB program.
A student is not equipped with the practical aspects of the law. Even after spending so much time on studying law by students, if they are not equipped with the practical aspect of law, then it is the fault of the rigid and archaic model of imparting legal education rather than the selection process of judicial services is not at fault.
Young minds are trained and prepared by the judicial academies for the positions they have reached. BCI itself questions these institutions by calling their officers incompetent. It demonstrates the inefficiency of these judicial academies in training officers effectively and upto the satisfactory post.
Transparency is needed in these institutions and the courses should be reformed as training. Considering the current scenario, BCI must look after them and modify its policies.
The measures taken by the BCI appears to be discriminatory against the students who want to become judicial officials. It distinguishes between litigating and non-litigating classes without a reasonable classification between the two. There is no such training or experience for those who intend to take the case to court, so why only the class of non-litigators suffer?
Why should the Bench suffer if there is no mandate from BCI to the Bar?
Therefore, it can be inferred from the actions of BCI that it really pushes a judiciary aspirant into the corporate sector, or wants the courtrooms to be full of lawyers. The decision may not really resolve the plaguing issues, but would later result in corporatization of litigation.
Overall, we suggest that adopting higher and more robust training methods adopted by judicial academies bring qualitative skills to young officers rather than forcing them to practice three years at the bar as a prerequisite.
These training sessions and courses provided by the BCI and the Judicial Academy need to be analyzed and balanced to eliminate the side effects that are seen today. The determination of a three-year practice will not ultimately address the issues under discussion, but will have more negative consequences in the legal field.