Quality legal education inextricably linked with justice delivery

The Pakistan Bar Council & the Provincial Bar Councils have utterly failed to take any reasonable steps to improve the Legal Education System in Pakistan. The quality and standards of legal education in Pakistan has undoubtedly declined due to the sheer neglect by the Legal Education Committees of the Provincial Bar Councils and The Pakistan Bar Council.

The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to take steps, which was suppose to be done by the Legal Education Committees of the Bar Councils, to improve the legal education in Pakistan. The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan on 8th September 2018 vide its judgment in CP No.134/2012 subsequently reported in 2019 SCMR 389, provided the guidelines for the improvement of legal education in Pakistan.

Since the Legal Education Committees of the Provincial Bar Councils & The Pakistan Bar Council have certainly failed to do anything to improve the legal education in Pakistan, the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to put a ban against holding of evening classes of law colleges and had to put a ban on the admissions to three-years LLB programmes.

Sadly, education system in Pakistan is producing students who lack practical understanding of their respective field. Focus of legal educational institutions is on quantity than quality which is causing rapid deterioration of legal system.

The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has occasionally sought to address various problems with legal education; the Honourable Court has identified several reasons for the decline of legal education; however, the Court cannot provide a complete solution, as it is a duty of the Pakistan Bar Council to introduce and enforce rules to improve the legal education in Pakistan.

The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to introduce the Special Equivalence Examination for law graduates of foreign universities, and Law Graduate Assessment Test (LAW-GAT) for law graduates seeking enrolment to the Bar, to improve the legal education in the Pakistan.

Astonishingly, despite the clear guidelines by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Provincial Bar Councils are uninterruptedly issuing licenses on the Two-Years “Fast track/Graduate Entry” LLB Degrees & on the “One-Year Law Diploma Certifications”. Law students in Pakistan have to pass at least 12 courses/subjects after completing a continuous 3-4 years of full-time university, accordingly after completing 3-4 years of continuous full-time university and after passing at least 12 courses/subjects, a law-graduate is eligible to get a license to practice law in the lower Courts of Pakistan, however the “University of London External Programme” offers a LLB Degree by the name/title of “FAST-TRACK GRADUATE ENTRY ROUTE”. The two-years LLB Degree can be obtained by simply passing just 9 courses/subjects in two years.

It is worth mentioning that the Indian Bar Council and other commonwealth countries do not consider a “2-years LLB Degree” as a qualifying or practicing Law Degree. Additionally, in the United Kingdom (U.K) a law student with 2 years LLB Degree is not allowed to practice law in the Courts of U.K, unless he/she gets an admission in one year “BPTC” or “LPC” program, consequently a law student with a 2-years LLB Degree in U.K has to pass further 12 Subjects of “BPTC” or “LPC” in order to get a license to practice law in UK.

Surprisingly, the Provincial Bar Councils of Pakistan are unceasingly issuing licenses on “One-Year Law Diploma Certifications” & on the “two-years LLB Degrees” which is contrary to The Bar Council Legal Education Rules 2015 & contrary to Legal Practitioner and Bar Council Act 1973 thus continuously undermining the quality of legal education in Pakistan.

Additionally, it is a fact that the Provincial Bar Councils do not have any mechanism to verify the LLB Degrees or transcripts of the Law Students or to check/verify the Criminal Records of the law students, resultantly the Provincial Bar Councils are issuing licenses without checking/verifying the Criminal Records of law students. To make the matters worse, under the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973, the requirement of a minimum of two-year experience in district courts, along with an interview, has become a mere formality in the granting of a license to practice before the High Courts.

There is virtually no impediment or selection criteria for any law graduate to be granted the license to practice before our courts of law. The Bar Councils are engaged more in Bar politics than regulating the legal Education. Section 13(1)(j) of the Legal practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973 states that:

Functions of the Pakistan Bar Council

[1] Subject to the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder, the functions of the Pakistan Bar Council shall be-

(j) to promote legal education and prescribe standards of such education in consultation with the universities in Pakistan and the Provincial Bar Councils.

The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in its aforementioned judgment observed that “the Bar as an institution also plays an important role in improving the quality of legal education. Provision of good legal education is inextricably linked with dispensation of justice.”

It is pertinent to mention that the Sindh Bar Council (SBC), user the supervision of its former Chairman Executive, is the only Provincial Bar Council which took strict measures in regards to granting of licenses to law graduates. Additionally, the SBC is also the only Provincial Bar Council that has officially requested the Provincial Inspector General of Police to provide the facility of the Criminal Record Verification  System.

It is also notable that the SBC has officially sent several letters/requests to the Pakistan Bar Council, requesting them to declare the One-year LLB diploma certifications and the Two-year LLB Degrees, as a non-practising Degrees.

As a lawyer, I humbly request the Vice Chairman of The Pakistan Bar Council & the Chairman Legal Education Committee to take immediate steps to improve the quality of legal education in Pakistan.

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