On 9th June, the Bar Council of India (BCI) issued a circular stating that with regard to final year LL. B students, universities were at liberty to adopt any other appropriate methods to satisfy the requirements of regular examination. This relaxation was given to universities owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ULC Bangalore came up with an alternative guideline which included: -
a) With regard to the requirement under Paper 24 (b): Observance of Trial in two cases, one Civil and one Criminal
That in lieu of physical observance of criminal/civil proceedings, the assessment shall be done on the basis of review based/secondary data-based assignments i.e. One on the city and another on the criminal cases which are written by hand by the students and submitted to the course teacher for assessment in person or send through the post, courier or scanned and emailed for 30 marks.
b) With regards to requirements in Paper 24 (c): Interviewing techniques and Pre-trial preparations and Internship diary
The student will have to submit two assignments explaining the experience gained during an internship in the previous years of their LLB course which are written by hand by the students and submitted to the course teacher for assessment, either in person or sent through the post, courier or scanned and emailed for 30 marks (Each carrying 15 marks).
C) The final year LLB students, viva-voce examinations may be conducted online keeping a record of the whole Viva Voce examination. The test also may be conducted online or in lieu of the same, assignments or projects which are written by hand by the students and submitted to the course teacher for assessment, either in person or sent through the post, courier, or scanned and emailed.
As the Bar Council of India approved the alternative guidelines for law students, two of the student namely Gautam R and Krishnamurthy T K moved the Karnataka High Court seeking directions to the BCI to do away the mandatory regulations such as Moot Court exercises and internship for all Final year students. They pleaded that clause (b) and (c) of paper 24 should be dispensed under Schedule II of Part IV of Bar Council Of India Rules (Rules of Legal Education) for the students of the academic year 2019-20
The plea cites that “due to this COVID -19 pandemic High Court has laid down certain Standard Operating Procedures for the regular functioning and operation of the Courts wherein it has been categorically laid down that the entry of Advocates' clerks, litigants as well as any other third parties have been strictly prohibited into the premises of the courts, sans permission.” They contended that it would be impossible for the students of the final year of law to enter court premises and observe the court proceedings or to observe the interviewing session of clients at a lawyer’s office/ Legal Aid office for the purpose of completion of the course in such circumstances.
The court took into consideration the point that this is about the future of Law students and therefore called the BCI to clear up the issue. When the BCI told the court that it had approved the alternative guidelines, then the court noted that there is no impediment in the way of the university in implementing the alternative guidelines.
On Wednesday the plea was disposed by the Karnataka HC and said “In the light of alternate guidelines proposed by the Bangalore University and resolution dated 29th August passed by BCI, the apprehensions/grievance regards alternative guidelines adopted by 3 Universities does not survive, as even BCI has accepted the guidelines are within the framework of the law.”