New Delhi: Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday made it clear that legal education would remain within the purview of Bar Council of India, saying the apex lawyers` body could decide best what is necessary in this area.
His comments came in wake of strong opposition from the apex lawyers` body about a proposed bill of the HRD Ministry, which it allege is aimed at usurping the BCI`s control over legal education.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had earlier said that Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill will not infringe upon legal education.
"Legal education will remain within the purview of Bar Council of India...They are the best to decide what is necessary," Khurshid said at a seminar here organised by Indian Law Institute in association with Bar Council of India, Supreme Court Bar Association and others.
He, however, noted that as core structure in education is changing with people enrolling to legal education along with a combination of other subjects, a balance has to be struck between professional bodies like bar council and other bodies regarding legal education.
"There are people who want to read law not to crack law...People who want to combine law with subjects like physics, chemistry, mathematics, management.”
"We will have to find a balance, through discussion as to what are the contours and areas which must be totally protected for professional bodies like the bar council and what are the areas not for an academic nature...," he said.
Listing emerging challenges in the legal system like tribunalisation of law, staffing, training, infrastructure and in area of economics, the Law Minister said alternative dispute redressal mechanism should be explored to resolve disputes expeditiously.
He also urged the lawyers to use low cost Aakash tablet PC, which is being introduced for students, for effective use of technology in the legal system.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar stressed on speedy delivery of justice as she expressed concern over the large number of pending cases in courts and favoured strengthening of alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
While the issue of pendency of cases is being examined by the judiciary, she said, "The responsibility of advocates in ensuring speedy justice cannot be undermined."
According to available reports, the Speaker said more than 50,000 cases in the Supreme Court and more than 40 lakh cases in the High Courts are awaiting disposal.
Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like mediation, arbitration and conciliation, and institutions like Lok Adalats and Nyaya Panchayats also needs to be strengthened as these will reduce the number of cases going to courts and also provide easy access to justice for the poor, she said.
Her views were echoed by Chief Justice of India designate Justice Altamas Kabir.
Kumar emphasised on pre-litigation conciliation process which will not only diminish the burden on the courts but will also enhance one`s professional reputation.
Noting that requests for frequent adjournments increase the period of litigation, she asked Bar council to "consider developing a self-regulatory mechanism for discouraging this tendency and for counselling both, the lawyers and clients, to preclude adjournments except in unavoidable circumstances”.