Students holding degrees as private candidates through Open University Scheme allowed admission to Law courses

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a batch of writ appeals filed under Section 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act, a Division Bench comprising of H.G. Ramesh, Acting CJ and P.S. Dinesh Kumar, J. held that the students holding degrees as private candidates via distant learning programmes/Open University schemes are eligible to be admitted to 3/5 year law courses.

The petitioners were students from 3/5 year law courses whose admissions were cancelled by the respondent-University by misinterpreting the Explanation to Rule 5 of the Bar Council of India Rules. The said Rule prescribes eligibility criteria for the students to be admitted in 3/5 year law courses. It says that for a 3 year course, a student should hold a graduation/post graduation or equivalent degree; and for a 5 year course, a student should complete 10+2 or equivalent course. The petitioners contended that the respondent had misinterpreted the Explanation to the said Rule by disapproving the admission of those students who have passed such courses through Open University scheme or as private candidates.

The issue in these appeals involved interpretation of Explanation to Rule 5 of the BCI Rules. The High Court perused the said Rule and was of the opinion that the Proviso to the said Rule allows admission to Law courses for students holding degree through Open University scheme; while the Explanation bars the admission of those students who have obtained such degrees through Open University scheme, ‘directly’, without having any basic qualification for pursuing such studies.

The High Court found that the petitioners had attended classes in the School and appeared for 10th/12th/Graduation examinations. Therefore, they could not be classified as candidates who have obtained there degrees ‘directly’ without the basic qualification. The case of the petitioners fell under the Proviso to Rule 5 and not under the Explanation. Accordingly, the appeals were allowed and respondent-University was directed to consider the eligibility of the petitioners in light of the law laid down in the judgment. [Harish N. v. Sheshadripuram Law College, WA Nos. 5142 and 921-23 of 2017, order dated 13.12.2017]

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