Bar Council in the dock: 53-year-old moves CCI against age limit for law courses

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on November 30, 2020 Published on November 30, 2020

Petition says age bar creates an indirect entry barrier into the legal profession

At a time when ‘age no bar’ is one of the themes of inclusivity and people are taking to second careers well into their fifties, the age cap set by the Bar Council of India (BCI) on candidates seeking legal education seems restrictive. So argues a petition filed electronically with the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The petition contends that the BCI is creating an indirect entry barrier into the legal services profession.

Petitioner T Raveendra Babu, a 53-year-old engineer with the CPWD who plans to opt for VRS and take up law, contends that the BCI is abusing its dominant position in contravention of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, by having such restrictions.

According to the petitioner’s advocate Srinivas Rao Kaveti, Raveendra Babu, who topped the LLB entrance examination held in October 2020 in Andhra Pradesh, is now unable to get admission because of Clause No 28 of the BCI Rules of Legal Education, 2008, which fixes the age limit for legal education. Per the Clause, the upper age limit is 20 years (22 years for SC/ST students) for admission to the five-year integrated law course and 30 years (35 years for SC/ST students) for the three-year programme.

Litigations galore

The Law Commission of India, led by Chairman AR Lakshmanan, had also endorsed the rule.

Aggrieved by the rule, many individuals had in the past approached various High Courts and even the Supreme Court, arguing that the Clause violated Article 14 — equality before the law; Article 19 (1) (g) — Right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business; and Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

After several litigations in various High Courts and the Supreme Court, the BCI revised the age limit to 22 years and 45 years, respectively, for the two law courses. There are batches of writ petitions still pending before the Supreme Court pertaining to this matter.

The CCI route

Now, to speed things up, Srinivas Rao has approached the CCI. “We discovered that the Competition Act, 2002 also addresses a similar crisis. Therefore, we filed this instant petition with the CCI,” the advocate told BusinessLine.

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Published on November 30, 2020
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