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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday struck down the age limit policy of the Punjab University for admission to LLB programme and constituted special committees for scrutiny of law colleges in the province.

A full bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order on petitions challenging five-year LLB programme and 24 years age limit fixed by the Punjab University (PU) for studying law in the light of Pakistan Bar Council’s suggestions.

The bench observed that the PU’s age limit policy was in violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Representing the petitioners, Advocate Safdar Shaheen Pirzada argued that the impugned policies were in glaring violation of the mandate of the legal education rules, law and the Constitution.

He said it was fundamental right of every citizen to be educated in law or in any other discipline and no rule could be made to discourage people from getting higher education, especially by fixing the age limit.

The lawyer argued that the impugned policy would greatly damage the legal profession as it prevented potential lawyers from getting education.

Advocate Pirzada added the impugned policies were against social and academic norms prevalent in different educational institutions of the world. No educational institution in the world created hurdles or stopped students from studying law except Pakistan, he added.

PBC representatives defended the policies pleading that the rules were made to raise the declining standards of legal education. They said the bar wanted to discourage mushroom growth of substandard law colleges.

Striking down the age limit policy, the bench also directed all universities and their affiliated colleges to conduct admission to the LLB programme according to previous policy and seats structure.

The bench formed special committees for the whole province, comprising representatives of Pakistan Bar Council, Punjab Bar Council, universities/colleges and respective DCOs/DPOs for scrutiny of law colleges and academies.

The bench directed the committees to submit their reports regarding their respective districts by Oct 24.

Justice Yawar Ali Khan and Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza were the other members of the full bench.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2016