Interview By- Shuvasmita Nanda
Mr.Jayant Bhatt is an eminent lawyer, teacher, mentor, writer, advisor, and thought leader. He is a first-generation independent litigator based in New Delhi. He holds dual Masters of Law (LL.M.) from New York University, USA & the National University of Singapore and is a member of the prestigious Supreme Court Bar Association and Delhi High Court Bar Association.
VAIDHA Law Journal is elated to receive this opportunity of interviewing him on Bar Council's recent directives and impleadments regarding LL.M and Judicial service examinations.
You can contact him at
Linked in- linkedin.com/in/jayant-bhatt-995318166
Q. Could you please explain our readers in brief about the recent amendments and impleadments made by the Bar Council of India regarding LL.M and Judicial examinations?
A.The Bar Council of India (BCI) has recently notified the Legal Education Rules which bring in some significant changes to the existing framework of postgraduate law courses. It has taken the debatable step of abolition of the one year LL.M which was introduced in 2013.
The rules further contain provisions like the BCI’s plan to conduct an all-India common entrance test for admissions to LL.M programs across the country and the bar on assistant professors to supervise LL.M dissertations. The BCI also wishes to hold a common law entrance exam for such post graduation under its aegis.
Further, another issue brewing is that of Bar Council of India’s impleadment application before the Apex Court seeking modification of the 2002 Supreme Court order in All India Judge’s; Association v Union of India (2002 AIJA case) wherein the court rejected the eligibility criteria of 3 year experience at the bar for giving state judicial service exam. The BCI prefers 3 years of minimum experience at the bar for taking the judicial service exam.
Q. Could you please explain to our readers the possible reasons behind these amendments and impleadments? Are they justifiable?
A:The reasoning behind the minimum work experience at the bar requirement seems to be that an experience of hands on court craft is always better for a judge so that he can analyze a case with the acumen of a lawyer and the discretion and temperament of a judge. This seems to be justified as a well-rounded development in the field of law is always a positive aspect for the judiciary.
However, the BCI amendments relating to higher studies seem to be prima facie out of its ambit and lacking any concrete reasons. The changes have narrowed the path of law graduates as not every law graduate who pursues an LL.M necessarily wishes to go into the academic field. More so, the BCI is a regulatory body and as such cannot hold such qualitative entrance exams on its own, the idea of which though may not be adverse to the interest of students. Further, BCI’s role in guiding the LL.M Program is contrary to its ambit of regulating the “basic degree” for practicing law. Academic and pedagogical issues of higher studies and specialization should not be guided or controlled by the BCI.
Q. How impactful do you think these implications would be in a law student's life planning to work in an esteemed law firm or undertake judiciary in the future?
A: These changes will definitely have an impact on the students as in my opinion, law graduates are very wary of their qualifications, their skill development, in the most optimum way possible. This might have the opposite effect of steering law graduates who do not want to go into teaching away from pursuing an LL.M.
Further, it would prompt law graduates, to start practicing right out of law school, be it in litigation or in the corporate field. So that they may be able to carve a niche of specialization through their work or gather enough experience to take the judiciary exam. The focus on internships, trainee programs with law firms and focusing on the basic legal undergraduate degree will increase.
Q. The validity of LLM in a foreign university is also in question. Could you please explain in brief about it and its effectiveness to Indian students interested in reading or currently reading in a foreign university?
A:The BCI has stated that a one-year LL.M obtained from any foreign University will not be considered equivalent to an Indian LL.M degree. However, a one-year LL.M degree obtained after an equivalent LLB degree from any highly accredited foreign university may entitle the person concerned to be appointed as a visiting professor in an Indian University for at least one year to consider such one-year LL.M degree with one-year teaching experience as a Visiting Faculty/internee faculty/clinical faculty as equivalent to the Indian counterpart.
This rule is problematic as it forces a person to teach for a year to validate his/her degree. LL.M is a prerequisite to teach, but teaching is not the sole reason to obtain an LL.M. At a time when the legal field is expanding rapidly to include technology, journalism, research, etc., this narrow confinement defeats the purpose of higher education.
Q. A revision was also done by Delhi Bar Council recently regarding enrollment fees and circulation charge; according to you, what could be the possible reason behind such increase, and is it justified?
A. A revision of the fees and charges at such a financially precarious time seems like bad timing and an unwise move, but I can only speculate that it has been done for administrative reasons, albeit a little blinkered.
Q. What suggestion would you like to give to the readers reading this interview?
A. In this Post-Covid climate of frequent change and shifting paradigms of law, for one to land on one’s feet, one should always strive to be hardworking, tenacious, to think outside the box and consistently broaden one’s intellectual and experiential horizons.