Law and Regulations on Legal Education in India Before, During and After COVID-19 with a Post-COVID-19 Manifesto

DOI10.1177/2322005821996492
Published date01 July 2021
Date01 July 2021
Article
Law and Regulations on Legal
Education in India Before, During
and After COVID-19 with a
Post-COVID-19 Manifesto
S.G. Sreejith1
Abstract
This article is in pursuit of a way forward from the pandemic-stricken condition of legal education in
India to a future of excellence. It realizes that as much as the pandemic paralyses us and threatens
with losses, it educates us, emboldens us and helps us realize our true imaginative and constructive
possibilities. What is being threatened is a system ordered through a regulatory governance, which owes
its legitimacy to the constitution and rule of law. What is being discovered is the many possibilities—of
imagination, experimentation and innovation—of regulations. Hence, this article builds a juxtaposition
of regulations as they were before the pandemic and as they are during the pandemic, revealing the
contrast between them in their scope and application. Inputs for reimagination found between the
contrasts are used for making a manifesto for resilience and change, the relevance of which becomes
obvious through a prevailing sentiment that perhaps the world will never be the same again.
Introduction
Our complete ignorance of what the future held in store had taken us unawares; we were unable to react against
the mute appeal of presences, still so near and already so far.
—Albert Camus, The Plague (1948)
This article and analysis of the law on legal education in India, which comprises the constitutional and
regulatory enactments, mostly the latter, are prompted by the extraordinary changes in social condition
caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has, in effect, been the closure of the ‘normal’,
pushing society into a ‘new normal’ and prompting a reimagination of social production, including the
role of higher/legal education in the mode of production. A reimagination and reinvention cannot,
however, be possible against a rejection of the existing state of affairs, even though a new context has
come in place. This inevitability of the ‘present’, and all frameworks there at, makes a strong case for the
need to revisit the existing regulations. Further, any reimagination in the context of legal education
demands a deeper understanding of regulations, including an understanding of their policy rationale,
Asian Journal of Legal Education
8(2) 119–143, 2021
© 2021 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/2322005821996492
journals.sagepub.com/home/ale
1 Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Corresponding author:
S.G. Sreejith, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana 131001, India.
E-mail: sgsreejith@jgu.edu.in
120 Asian Journal of Legal Education 8(2)
which helps to unveil the imaginative spaces within the regulations. This type of a study, and an analysis
thereof, and the broad-based scope of regulations it explains become essential for the law school
leadership, particularly given that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the contexts in which the
regulations operated, rendering the latter empty of meanings.
For the readers to comprehend the impact of the changed circumstances on the regulations, the article
builds a juxtaposition of regulations (and the thought behind them, including relevant jurisprudence) as
they were before the pandemic and as they are during the pandemic. Such a juxtaposition reveals the
contrast between them in their scope and application. It is in the space between the contrasts that
the inputs for reimagination lie. In other words, the juxtaposition and the resulting contrast become the
analytic and the analytical output of this article, respectively. This analysis is followed by a futuristic
take on the regulations by submitting a manifesto for resilience and change, partly during and mostly
after COVID-19, the relevance of which becomes obvious through a saturnine sentiment relayed by
Yuval Noah Harari that perhaps the world will never be the same again.
The second section of the article presents the regulatory history of legal education in India. The
historicality of the regulations on legal education is captured therein such that the reader gets to
understand the normative foundations and ontology of the regulations, which have fallen into newer
conditions due to the pandemic. Such an engagement with the history, and the ontological understanding
thereof, helps to appreciate the ‘becoming’ of legal education through various legislative decisions and
acts. After all, it is history which becomes the starting point for any reimagination. In the third section,
the article discusses the subsequently evolved regulatory framework of legal education under the Bar
Council of India (BCI) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India. It also discusses the
relevant constitutional provisions, explaining how the regulatory bodies get their legitimacy and how
regulations percolate to the level of decision-making in universities. In the fourth section, the article
explains how the pandemic has threatened the scope of existing regulations and the response of the
regulatory bodies, including the BCI and the UGC to the pandemic. In the fifth section, the article
submits a COVID-19 manifesto. It is the hope that this article would become a reference for law school
leadership in India, for effectively responding to the circumstances created by the pandemic and to
explore the possibilities in the new normal.
A Regulatory History of Legal Education in India
Legal education, as it is understood in the contemporary sense, was introduced in India by the British,
though initially with the only intent of educating the masses about the enactments of the British Empire.2
Such a move was part of a larger programme of knowing-the-empire, first, through English language
and, second, through laws of the land.3 Therefore, during the early days, Indian lawyers were of a lower
cadre—the tellers of laws—possessing the minimum qualification of matriculation (and, in many
instances, even lower) and elementary knowledge of the English language.4 However, later on, with the
establishment of British Courts at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras to administer justice through British
2 J.K. Bhavani, Legal Education in India, 4 J. IndIan L. Inst. 167 (1962). On legal education in ancient India, mainly under the
Vedic tradition, see sushma Gupta, hIstory of LeGaL educatIon 44–51 (2006).
3 Id.
4 Id. at 168.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT