LAHORE - The Supreme Court was moved yesterday against Pakistan Bar Council’s notification restricting three-year degree LLB program and enforcing five-year program which, the lawyer-petitioner claims, had deprived thousands of students from attaining legal education and joining the legal profession across the country.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of Watan Party filed the constitutional petition in the Supreme Court Lahore registry. In his petition, the petitioner had claimed that the ban on graduates/BA Hons from getting admission in three-year LLB program is unlawful and unconstitutional. He said that lowering down admission to the students of FA/ Intermediate instead of graduation is illegal.

The petitioner also challenged new amendments introduced in Rule 4 Sub Rules (i) (ii) (iii) in the Pakistan Bar Council’s Legal Education Rules, 2015. He submitted that amendment in these above rules was discriminatory, illegal and equal to the violation of fundamental rights.

The lawyers submitted that Rule 10 of Legal Education Rules, 2015, placed restriction on attainment of legal education which is malafide, discriminatory and based upon ulterior motives while Rule 13 is presumptive since no educational infrastructure is available of this level as neither lectures/ teachers nor books are available which could help in research in Ph.D.

He said the legal profession is ever learning profession whereas FA students have hardly much knowledge and command on English to take lectures of the legal education in it while graduate students, especially those who are doing BA Hons which previously was two years graduation program are more competent and more knowledgeable. But even then they are being deprived from admission in 3-year program of LLB.

“This will enhance the standard of legal education if students were permitted in LLB courses for three years duration after BA Hons,” he added.

On the other hand, the petitioner held, the government has been spending very little in education which is now expected to rise from 5% to 20%.

He further stated that Pakistan Bar Council blamed the mushroom growth of law colleges and universities for poor standard in legal education and education in general. Zafarullah Khan said, in fact, this is not so, because all the students have passed their examinations and then can join profession and there is huge competition to become successful lawyer and also remain ethical.

“Once a person qualifies and attains a degree, there is no need of entry test,” he contended.

He further asserted that there is no educational infra-structure in sight in the legal profession as lawyers’ libraries from high courts to Supreme Court present miserable sight and none of the foreign journals and books are provided there, and if there is any available that could be 30 to 40 years old and so.

The petitioner requested the court to set aside the Rule no 4 (i)(ii) and Rule No 5 (ii), Rule No 6, Rule No 7 while Rule No 10 and Rule 13 being discriminatory and presumptive be declared null and void. He also prayed to the court to allow graduates (degree of holders of BA Hons) be allowed to get admission in 3-year LLB program.

He further prayed the court to set aside the notification of PBC increasing period of three year LLB degree to five years.

In January, 2016, Pakistan Bar Council extended the length of LLB’s course length from 3 years to 5 years, with strict directions to the private law colleges and universities to shut evening programs for law students.

Pakistan Bar Council ruled that the duration of the LLB. course shall not be less than 5 years; no further admission to LLB. (3 years programme) will be given by any University/Law College. However, the present 3 years LLB. programme shall discontinue after 3 years of enforcement of these Rules. The PBC also suggested that the number of students admitted in first year LLB. programme by a University/Law College shall not be more than 100.

Teachers and students of different law colleges and universities also showed mixed reaction over extension in LLB’s course duration from three years to five.

They said that the length of five years was already in practice as many students, after their intermediate, got admissions in five years programme of LLB. However, they said the PBC took this decision in haste as no suggestions were given regarding curriculum development.