Delhi HC Directs BCI To Take 'Reasoned Decision’ In Plea to Equate UK Law Degree with Indian Undergrad Course

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Court stated that the determination of equivalence was under the jurisdiction of academic bodies, and therefore, the courts are unable to declare courses of study or the institutions providing them as equivalent to others

The Delhi High Court has recently directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to “take a reasoned and speaking decision” in a plea filed by a UK law graduate. He sought to obtain permission to treat his LL.B. (Hons.) degree from the University of Hertfordshire as equivalent to an undergraduate degree in India, thereby allowing him to pursue admission into a three-year law course in India based on this equivalence.

The bench of Justice Hari C Shankar held, “All that the court can do in this case is to direct the BCI to take a reasoned and speaking decision on the petitioner’s representation and communicate the decision to the petitioner as soon as it is taken”. 

After completing his Secondary School Education in 2016 and his Senior School Certificate Examination in 2018, the petitioner enrolled in the LL.B (Hons.) Bachelor of Law course at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. in September 2018. The petitioner completed this course in 2021. He then returned to India and, based on the LL.B. (Hons.) degree obtained from the University of Hertfordshire, sought enrolment as an advocate to practice law in India. 

However, the Bar Council of India (BCI) informed the petitioner that, in order to qualify to practice as an advocate in India, he would need to complete a two-year bridge course conducted by the India International University of Legal Education and Research in Goa.

Advocate G.K. Sachdeva, representing the law graduate, submitted that his client was in financial distress and could not afford the two-year course. However, Advocate Preet Pal Singh for the BCI, alternatively submitted that the petitioner would have to undertake a five-year law course from any university in India, following the stipulated admission process. 

The court noted that it could not instruct the BCI to issue any such certificate of equivalence. "Equivalence is a matter for academic bodies to decide and Courts cannot declare courses of study or the Institutions from which such courses are undertaken, as equivalent to others", the court added. 

Accordingly, the court disposed of the petition. 

Case Title: Vasu Sachdeva v Bar Council of India (2024:DHC:4258)