LAHORE: A law college commission formed on Punjab level, mandated by the Supreme Court to come up with solutions to the problems with legal education, has opposed immediate de-affiliation of substandard private law colleges as recommended by a special committee made on the same lines on national level.

The Supreme Court had constituted the special committee under the chairmanship of former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Hamid Khan, and also formed law commissions in all provinces.

Since a commission in Punjab, chaired by senior lawyer Anwar Kamal, was already doing its job following a decision by the Lahore High Court, the apex court adopted it with same composition. Heads of all provincial commissions were members of the special committee.

The special committee in its report filed before the court last week had recommended immediate de-affiliation of all substandard law institutions.

However, the Law College Commission of Punjab in its report states that unless major issues are addressed the de-affiliation will not result in structural reforms of legal education, but may end up in grant of affiliation to same colleges with new names.

During last hearing of the case at the SC’s Lahore registry, commission chairman Mr Kamal also told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar that the existing evaluation/examination system was the root cause of all wrongs with the legal education. He said if the root cause was addressed, every parameter was bound to change for the better.

Referring to a famous saying, he said, “If you want to cleanse the well, you must first take out the dead dog.”

The provincial commission in its report does not recommend de-affiliation of any law college instead suggests strengthening and harmonising of the work of all institutions and regulators involved in legal education. It says that all the regulators, including affiliating universities, Pakistan Bar Council, the provincial bar councils and Higher Education Commission, have not performed their statutory role.

The report further says that laidback attitude towards every aspect of legal education has been observed across the board. Private commercial interests have aggravated the situation. The shutting down of affiliated colleges will not “reform”, but “deform” legal education by pushing potential students into the arms of institutions with “showroom quality hardware and inferior low quality software”.

The closing down or de-affiliating of the colleges will shut the doors of legal education on parents/students who can neither afford to stay away from home nor can they afford high tuition fees of big city institutions, the report adds.

The bench is set to resume proceedings of the law education reforms case on Tuesday in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2018