Conducting Examinations for LLB Admissions – University rules take precedence over Bar Council of India rules: Gujarat High Court

A single-judge bench of Judge Vaibhavi D. Nanavati of the High Court of Gujarat ruled that in terms of conduct of the examination and results of admission to the LLB course, the rules of a university would prevail over the rules of the Bar Council of India.

In this case, the High Court upheld Saurashtra University rules which barred admission to an LLB course in cases where the graduate failed to pass the exam in a single attempt.

Briefly, the facts of the case are that the applicant sat for the B.Com exam and out of 7 subjects, failed 2 subjects. However, the applicant appeared for these two re-examinations and passed his second attempt. He then applied to the Respondent University for admission to a 3-year Bachelor of Laws.

The Respondent rejected his application on the grounds that he had taken his B.Com exam twice and had passed it on his second attempt, he was declared passed with an “exemption”. Thus, he had not obtained the required percentage for admission and was not eligible for the same. The admissions process was conducted under the aegis of the Bar Council of India and the Respondent University. It was further confiscated that the score sheet issued was under the exemptions of Order-154(d).

The petitioner wrote a letter to the President Secretary of the Gujarat Bar Association who stated that the petitioner had obtained 45.57% and was eligible for admission. However, the Respondent University reiterated that if a student had given two attempts, his percentage could not be calculated on the basis of the two mark sheets. As per the Rule of Bar Council of India, a student belonging to the Open/General category had to have a minimum of 45% to be admitted into a 3-year LLB course and hence the petitioner was not eligible to be admitted.

The petitioner argued that the exclusion of the petitioner based on the number of attempts made by him was arbitrary. Thus, the petitioner has sought relief that he cannot obtain a degree with exemption in view of the fact that the petitioner’s case falls under the provisions of Ordinance No. 154 of the Saurashtra University Act and as said order, once a candidate applies for a waiver, the candidate is not eligible for class scholarships or university scholarships.

Here, the court held that the petitioner, having made use of the exemption under the provision of Ordinance-154, would be considered ineligible to take the LLB course, after passing the 3rd year B.Com with “passing class”. This is because the pass class was 36% and not 45.57%, and therefore, no error was made by the respondent-University

The court then interpreted University Order 154 to clarify its position. He found that the petitioner sat for the 3rd year B.Com exam and was declared “failed” in 2 subjects. The applicant again sat for 2 subjects, for which he was declared successful and requested an exemption for other subjects. After claiming an exemption, Ordinance 154 of Saurashtra University Act became applicable.

The court relied on the judgments of Principal, Patna College, Patna v/s. Kalyan Srinivias Raman (AIR 1966 SC 707) and Devendra Bhaskar v. State of Haryana and Ors., 2021 (11) SC 444 in which the provisions of Ordinance 154 of the University of Saurashtra Act and Rule 7 of the Indian Bar Council Education Rules 2008 were considered. During the examination of these provisions, it was held by the court that if the candidate passed the examination with more than one attempt/attempt, he would benefit from the exemption in few tests but he would be considered as having Passed the exam with a minimum percentage of Marks. Thus, in the present case, the court held that–

The duly produced mark sheet clearly indicates that the applicant has obtained the “passing class”. Further, eligibility as prescribed by the University cannot be overlooked and the applicant cannot be considered eligible and have achieved a minimum of 45% as prescribed by the Gujarat Bar Council to gain admission in the LLB course. The question regarding the eligibility criteria must be examined by the Respondent – ​​University. Otherwise, this Court cannot sit on appeal from a decision taken by an expert body, and therefore, this Court is not prone to interfere under Article 226 of the Constitution of India..”

The court further held that the rules of the Bar Council of India did not provide for the conduct of an examination and its outcome. The rules only suggest that an applicant must possess 45% marks to gain admission to the law course/LLB course. Thus, the University Ordinance No. 154 prevails over the Rules of the Bar Council of India.

Thus, the Court was not inclined to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and hence the petition was dismissed.

Case Title: MADHUSUDAN GUNVANTRAY PANDYA Versus SAURASHTRA UNIVERSITY

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