ISLAMABAD   -   The Supreme Court has directed for immediate closing down of five unauthorised law colleges for having affiliation with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Benazirabad, which is not recognised or authorised by the Pakistan Bar Council to offer an LL.B programme.

The top court’s 17-page order authored by Justice Umar Ata Bandial also noted that 114 law colleges affiliated with different universities of the country had been recommended by the Special Committee of PBC to be disaffiliated on account of below the mark and substandard.

Those colleges ordered to be immediately closed include Leons Law College, Intelligentia Law College Moro, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Law College Naushahro Feroze, Ali Law College Sanghar and Shah-e-Ali Law College Tando Adam.

According to special committee, out of 114 law colleges, 15 law colleges are affiliated with University of Peshawar, 1 is affiliated with University of Hazara, Mansehra, 4 are affiliated Gomal University D.I.Khan, 2 law colleges are affiliated with University of Baluchistan, 2 are affiliated with University of Sindh, Hyderabad, 7 are affiliated with Shah Abdul Lateef University, Khairpur, 32 law colleges are affiliated with Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan, 25 are affiliated with University of the Punjab Lahore and 8 law colleges are affiliated with Islamia University Bahawalpur.

The top court however ruled that before disaffiliation of any of the colleges is implemented, they shall be granted an opportunity to be heard by the concerned university.

Regarding students’ adjustment of the disaffiliated colleges, the top court further ruled: “Adjustment of law students who are affected by the disaffiliation of their law colleges shall be pursued by the concerned affiliating universities which shall be responsible to assure that such students are enabled to pursue their ongoing LL.B programme till completion.”

The directions and declarations issued by the top court are in light of the recommendations submitted by the Special Committee of PBC.

The top court approved the recommendation of ban on 3-year LL.B Programme. “A five years LL.B. programme shall be introduced in September, 2019. The current three years LL.B. programme shall be phased out and law colleges throughout Pakistan shall not admit students to their three years LL.B. programme after 31 December 2018.”

The top court issued short order on Friday on different identical petitions filed by PBC regarding declining standards of legal education. In the case, the top court had directed PBC to constitute a Special Committee for Structural Reforms in Legal Education. The Committee’s task was to inspect affiliated law colleges that have mushroomed in the market and to report on the standard of legal education, training and services imparted by them.

Based on the findings of these inspections, the Special Committee of the PBC submitted recommendations to the Court.

The top court also directed for restoration of bar entrance examination, the Law Graduate Assessment Test (LAW-GAT).

The top court further directed that the Law Admission Test (LAT) for all law colleges in Pakistan shall be held biannually by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The order noted that University of Balochistan, University of Peshawar, Gomal University DI Khan, University of Hazara Mansehra, University of Lahore, Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Karachi University, University of Sindh Hyderabad, Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur and Quaid e Azam University Islamabad are recognized and authorized by the PBC.

The top court also imposed ban against conducting LL.M and Ph.D in law classes by the universities, colleges, institutions that are not allowed to hold LL.B. classes.

“The universities and institutions that are not recognised and authorised by the PBC to confer LL.B degree shall not impart legal education to students at LL.M and Ph.D levels or to admit students to either of such programmes. The same rule applies to law colleges affiliated to such universities and institutions.”

“The HEC National Curriculum Review Committee along with the representative of the PBC sub-committee shall finalise the Curriculum for five years LL.B programme to be run on the basis of an annual or semester system of examinations. However, the salient aspects of such Curriculum shall be stated in the detailed reasons.

“Every affiliating university shall constitute a separate Affiliating Committee for initial and annual inspection of its affiliate law colleges and to take immediate action against those affiliate law colleges which are non-compliant with the rules framed by the PBC and the applicable rules of the affiliating university itself.”

It also ruled that there shall be a complete ban on evening classes being offered at all law colleges/universities across Pakistan.

“The Provincial/Islamabad Bar Councils may introduce “Two Weeks Bar Vocational Course” during the six months training/pupillage period that a law graduate intending to join the legal profession must undergo for being enrolled as an Advocate for practicing law. The Provincial/ Islamabad Bar Councils may, however, consider and decide modalities for introducing the said course through respective Federal/Provincial Judicial Academies.”

“For improvement of the standard and quality of legal education in the country, concerted and well planned efforts shall be made to establish a full-fledged and adequately equipped autonomous Secretariat/ Directorate of Legal Education in the PBC. For this purpose active and meaningful logistic and financial support of the Federal Government shall be secured by the PBC. The Supreme Court of Pakistan shall for this purpose endeavour to project the need for an autonomous Secretariat/ Directorate of Legal Education.”

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN