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Role of Bar Council in Legal Education and Paralegal Clinics

Introduction

The Right to Education is said to be the fundamental right of each citizen of India. And in today’s times, Legal education is of the utmost importance and is offered at different levels in various educational institutions. Legal Education is a science that imparts legal knowledge and helps individuals in understanding different provisions and principles related to the legal profession.  Law and legal education have become essential requirements in our day-to-day activities. Not only is legal education required for acquiring knowledge of the legal spectrum to gain a degree and become a legal professional, but also it is required to be understood by common people to create awareness among them about their rights and duties. Ignorance of the law cannot be excused. At the point when we have legal education according to a more extensive viewpoint, we must have law-abiding citizens in our country. Law is significant as it likewise lets the citizens know how they ought to lead and for that, proper education is required alongside awareness. Legal training ought to be essential for the educational program as the law likewise helps in bringing socio-economic justice and learning the expert low down of the law. [1]

The objective of Legal Education

  1. Legal education and virtues should be instilled in the minds of the young generation to create a better, safe, and more progressive nation.
  2. To foster insights and to figure out the issues of the society and to impact values and perspectives.
  3. To widen opportunity and versatility in society, especially among the groups who may have been deprived of their basic rights.
  4. To create awareness among less privileged people, bring them closer to the law, and make accessible for them free legal aid.
  5. To teach students about operative legitimate rules and to give them sufficient experience to apply these principles.
  6. To provide legal aid in each and every corner of our nation, so that no citizen is deprived of his/her rights. [2]

What are Paralegal Clinics?

Paralegal Clinics: Paralegal Clinics or also known as Legal aid clinics are monitored by paralegal volunteers (selected and prepared by the Legal Services Authorities) and legal counselors with a feeling of responsibility, reasonableness, and aversion to the problems of common citizens. Paralegal clinics are very much like healthcare clinics where a doctor provides medical care, and legal aid clinics on a similar line give essential lawful administrations to poor people, poverty-affected individuals, and thousands of undertrials moping in prisons who cannot afford legal services.

Paralegal Volunteers: An Advocate is delegated to a paralegal clinic and para-legal volunteers are there to help them, so any individual who has an unresolved issue or needs to record a case can move towards a paralegal clinic for help liberated from cost. Legal Aid Clinics was started under the scheme of the National Legal Services Authority (Legal Aid Clinics) Scheme, in 2010[3].

Objectives of Paralegal Clinics: The main objective of this scheme was to provide free legal services to the poor and deprived sections of society who cannot afford to pay legal consultation fees. Legal services under paralegal clinics include explaining their rights and duties to the common people, creating legal aid awareness, government schemes, consultation and advising on legal aspects, and explaining the procedures of the court. The paralegal clinics run free of cost. One of the main objectives in the formulation of paralegal clinics by the National Legal Services Authority is the “policy for access to justice to all” for the very purpose of imparting legal awareness among the underprivileged and poor sections of society. As per the provisions of Legal Service Authorities, there should be functioning paralegal clinics in all the courts, colleges, and universities, and may even operate in local vicinities. Thus helping in providing legal aid and assistance to people in need. [4]

Role of Bar Council in Legal Education and Paralegal Clinics

The Bar Council of India: The Bar Council of India is a statutory body that is established under section 4[5] of the Advocates Act, 1961. The Bar Council of India regulates and looks after legal education and legal practice in India. The members of the Bar Council are elected from amongst the advocates in practice and they represent the Indian bar. During the hearing of a matter in the case of the Bar Council of India vs. Bonnie FOI[6], the Supreme Court of India decided to address the crucial issue of reform in legal education. Through an order dated 29 June 2009, the Supreme Court of India noticed the low standards of legal education and constituted a committee to address the issue relating to the affiliation with the Bar Council of India.

Bar Council and Legal Education: The Bar Council of India visits and reviews universities and law schools in the country as a feature of its statutory function of advancing legal training and setting down standards in conferences with the universities in India and the State Bar Council. Section 4(k)[7] of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 mandates the National Legal Services Authority to create, in conference with the Bar Council of India, programs for clinical lawful training and advance direction and oversee the foundation and working of lawful administrations facilities in law colleges, universities and different organizations. It should be referenced that the Bar Council of India, has provided in Clause 11 of Schedule III to its Rules on Standards of Legal Education and Recognition of Degrees in Law[8] for the purpose of enrolment as advocates and inspection of Universities for recognizing its degrees in law, that each organization will establish a paralegal clinic to be controlled by the understudies under the oversight of a senior faculty in co-operation with the Legal Services Authorities. The legal services authorities are supposed to be established at the taluka level, district level, state level, and national level all over the country as per the provisions. The Bar Council of India organizes various academic workshops and competitions every year to support and enhance professional legal skills in law students. Section 7(1) (h)[9] of the Advocates Act, 1961 says that “The function of the Bar Council of India shall be to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the state bar council.” Article 39-A[10] of the Constitution of India provides equal justice and ‘Free Legal Aid’ and it clearly states that, “the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunities, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen because of economic or other disabilities.” [11]

Analysis

Legal Education and Paralegal Clinics are very important in today’s times. The Bar Council of India has a lot of powers vested inside itself, and rehearsing those powers can modify and re-evaluate the entire legal field in the country. There are heaps of loopholes in our general set of laws that the Bar Council ought to investigate, to shield the law from debasement and to keep up with its principles. Legal Education has been made a part of many different course curriculums. Not only law students but also students from schools, colleges, and different majors are made to acquire basic legal knowledge as per their requirements. Legal Aid Clinics and paralegal volunteers are also contributing towards legal awareness among common people. Paralegal volunteers hold awareness programs and seminars on different emerging issues at courts, streets, colleges, schools, and NGOs so that uninformed people could get aware of the law and their right to legal aid. Lok Adalats are organized by Legal Services Authorities under paralegal volunteer assistance. It is a forum where cases pending in the court of law or at the pre-litigation stage are settled compromised amicably and it is free of cost as well as final and binding on both parties. The Bar Council of India still has much to achieve in terms of proper legal education but the slow progress it is constantly achieving is remarkable and may change the future of the legal perspectives in India.

Conclusion

The Bar Council of India has its official website where it showcases the drafted rules for legal education, affiliation and recognition of law colleges and universities, proposed directions for reforms in legal education, works of legal services authorities, and the right to information. The Bar Council of India is a pioneer in structuring the Legal Education System, and training programs and providing legal aid awareness in India as it exists today. The Bar Council of India has been playing a very pivotal role in developing legal education and training all across the country.

Author(s) Name: Shaikh Iram Rizwan (Dr. D.Y. Patil College of Law, Nerul. Mumbai University)

References:

[1] ‘Overview of Right to Education’ (Department of School & Literacy, 14 July 2021) <https://dsel.education.gov.in/rte> accessed 07 October 2022.

[2] Mr. Rahul Sagar, ‘Clinical Legal Education’ (Manupatra, 21 August 2003) <https://articles.manupatra.com/article-details/Clinical-Legal-Education-A-Probable-Solution-to-Issues-in-Global-Legal-Education> accessed 07 October 2022.

[3] ‘National Legal Services Authority (Legal Aid Clinics) Scheme’ (2010) <http://chdslsa.gov.in/right_menu/schemes/pdffiles/legal_aid_clinic.pdf> accessed 07 October 2022.

[4] K.K. Pant, ‘Legal Aid Clinic Schemes for Rural India’ (Indiacsr, 17 November 2011) <https://indiacsr.in/legal-aid-clinics-scheme-for-rural-india/> accessed 08 October 2022.

[5] Advocates Act 1961, s 4(1).

[6] Bar Council of India v Bonnie FOI Law College and Ors (2016) S.L.P. (Civil) No. 22337/2008.

[7] Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, s 4(k).

[8] Rules on Standards of Legal Education and Recognition of Degrees in Law, Schedule III clause 11.

[9] Advocates Act 1961, s 7(1)(h).

[10] Constitution of India 1950, art. 39A.  

[11] ‘Legal Education (All Centres of Legal Education Circular of 2020)’ (Bar Council of India, 2020) <http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/legal-education/> accessed 13 October 2022.