LAHORE: The Supreme Court has approved a number of recommendations by a special committee on structural reforms in legal education, including Law Admission Test (LAT) to be conducted by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for admission to LLB programme.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had constituted the committee under former Supreme Court Bar Association president Hamid Khan, and comprising Pakistan Bar Council member Azam Nazir Tarar, senior lawyers Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri, Anwar Kamal, retired justices Khilji Arif Hussain and Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Dr Khalid Ranjha, Dr Ali Qizalbash and others.

A comprehensive final report submitted by the committee before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court during Monday’s hearing said the LAT shall be held twice a year by the HEC and valid for two years. The commission shall not charge any fee from the candidates for the exam. The committee told the court that the LAT was already being conducted for the current year.

Body formed under ex-SCBA president submits recommendations to SC

As per another recommendation by the committee, a law graduate will have to pass a bar entrance examination called Law Graduates Assessment Test (Law-GAT) to join the legal profession.

The committee also recommended a ban on conducting LLM and PhD in law programmes by the institutions not allowed to hold even LLB classes. It said that there should be a limit on admission to LLM and PhD programmes. It also recommended that no university shall be allowed to grant affiliation to colleges beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

It further said the HEC National Curriculum Review Committee along with representatives from provincial sub-committees designed curriculum for a five-year LLB programme to be run on annual and semester system of examination. It recommended a ban on admission to three-year LLB programme with the observation that the five-year programme had been introduced so the three-year degree needed to be phased out.

The chief justice approved that law colleges throughout Pakistan should not admit students to the three-year LLB programme after Dec 31.

The committee also defined minimum criteria for permanent faculty at law colleges, saying the dean of law faculty/head of law department/principal of law colleges shall possess a PhD in law with eight-year teaching experience or practice experience in high court or a masters degree in law with 15-year law-teaching experience/practice in high court.

There shall be at least five permanent faculty members with masters degree in law with five-year law-teaching experience/practice experience in high court or bachelors degree in law with 10-year teaching experience/practice in high court. There shall be at least five part-time/visiting faculty members with five-year standing as an advocate of high court, the committee recommended.

Chief Justice Nisar approved these recommendations with a slight modification allowing retired sessions, high courts and Supreme Court judges to become deans/principals at law colleges.

The committee further recommended a complete ban on holding of evening classes in law institutions. It also said that no law graduate from any foreign university, recognised by the provincial bar council, would be allowed to take Law-GAT unless they pass special equivalence examination for law graduates of foreign universities to be held by HEC.

The recommendations approved by the apex court also included immediate closing down of unauthorised law colleges and de-affiliation of substandard institutions.

The court would hear objections of private law colleges from Punjab on the committee’s recommendations on Friday at the court’s Lahore registry, while institutions belonging to other provinces were directed to make their presentations on Tuesday in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2018