The Supreme Court on March 12, 2019, in the case of Rishabh Duggal v. Bar Council of India & Anr., has passed an order urging the Bar Council of India (BCI) to reconsider the upper age limit for admission in the five-year and three-year law degree courses after hearing the various stakeholders.
A Bench comprising of JusticesS.A. Bobde and Sanjay Kishan Kaul was hearing a petition filed in 2016 by two aspiring law students, Rishabh Duggal and Rishabh Arora challenging the BCI’s age limit rule in Clause 28 of the Rules on Standards of Legal Education as being unconstitutional and ultra vires various provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961.
In 2008, the BCI had introduced the Rules on Standards of Legal Education framed under the Advocates Act of 1961. Clause 28 in the Schedule III of the Rules imposed an upper age limit for prospective law students to seek admission to the five-year and three-year law degree courses. The maximum age limit for joining the Bachelor’s law course was set at twenty years and for the post-graduate course, the limit was thirty years.
Since the time the said clause was enacted various conflicting judgments were passed by different High Courts in writ petitions challenging the validity of the clause. While the Punjab & Haryana and the Bombay High Courts have declared the clause to be ultra vires the provisions of the Advocates Act, the Madras High Court has upheld the age-limit. However, despite the rulings, the clause still stood.
After hearing the matter, the Bench observed that there is no age to acquire education. Justice Kaul observed that since children from economically weaker sections of society may not have a linear education, they would be disadvantaged by the age limit rule.Following the observations made, the Bench asked the BCI to reconsider the age limit by stating that “We consider it appropriate in the interest of justice to permit the Bar Council of India to reconsider the age limit after hearing the various stakeholders, including the petitioner.”