Do not penalise those who want to study LLB by cutting down the number of seats, the Delhi University was told today by the Delhi High Court, which allowed the varsity to admit 2,310 students in the course this year as has been done for the past nine years. In its interim order, a bench of Justices Manmohan and Yogesh Khanna said that since the Law Faculty of the varsity has been admitting 2,310 students since May 2008, it could admit the same number in the present academic session as well. “Why people should be penalised? Let them study. Give them a chance to study. If people want to study from there (DU), let them. Don’t reduce the capacity at this juncture. “You cannot cut down the seats in the Law Faculty because other have started private institutions. They (DU) have a larger capacity. They have a great faculty,” it said.
The court brushed aside the Bar Council of India’s (BCI) objections that enough permanent teachers or infrastructure was not there, saying “don’t create a ghost where there is none”. “They (Law Faculty) will ensure there are sufficient teachers. They are not a private university, so do not treat it like one. They get grant from the University Grants Commission, their accounts are audited, they will ensure the teaching faculty,” the bench said. While issuing the interim order, the court said the larger issue before it was the challenge to the constitutional validity of the rule capping at 300 the number of seats per law centre or institution.
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“They have been admitting and teaching 2,310 students every year till now. You reduced the seats. There must be some strong and cogent reason for reducing the seats. That is what we have to look into,” the bench said. It directed the Law Faculty of DU to file its response to the issues raised by the standing committee and inspection committee of the BCI and listed the matter for hearing on August 21. The court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Joginder Kumar Sukhija seeking directions to the BCI to permit DU to induct 2,310 students in its law course as has been the practice since 2008.
The Law Faculty, during the hearing, told the court that it had increased its seats in the LLB course to 2310 in May 2008 and the rule for capping the seats came into force in September 2008. The cap was implemented by the BCI only in 2010, the varsity claimed and added that as a result when it increased seats in 2008, there was no need for permission from the apex lawyers’ body. The BCI filed its standing committee’s report rejecting DU’s request to continue with 2,310 students after the court on June 12 had asked it to examine the varsity’s representation afresh.
The BCI told the court that it was already treating DU as an exceptional case by allowing it to induct 1,440 students as against 900 (300 per law centre). The court had ordered BCI to examine DU’s representation afresh as the bench had felt that the earlier rejection letter of the lawyers’ body did not deal with claims made by the university. The PIL, challenging the cap of 300 students per law centre, has claimed that a large number of students, especially those who have done their graduation, would be affected if the seats were reduced.
The petitioner has also said that by reducing the seats, public money, which was used to provide grant to the varsity, was not being put to optimal use. The PIL has sought a direction to strike down Rule 5 A of the Legal Education Rules, claiming it was arbitrary, capricious and violative of the fundamental rights.Under this rule, the number of seats per college or centre is capped at 300 which would come to a total of 900 seats for the DU’s three law centres. However, this limit can be relaxed under the exception clause.