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Reformation in Bar Council to Frame Up Graduates’ Fate: A Far Cry?

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Law pervades everywhere, embracing every sphere of life and society. When it comes to the implementation of a certain legislation, people imagine two elegant categories of personalities- lawyers and judges, as they are expected to play a significant role in upholding justice. So, whenever the law is violated or arbitrarily exercised or misapplied or found to be in contravention of the constitutional framework, people take resort to the justice system. By the intervention of the judiciary, the rights of the people get protected, the rule of law is upheld. Therefore, proper systems and policies are required to generate efficient, skilled, and professional lawyers. Hence, the Bar Council of Bangladesh being the regulatory institution, is supposed to appear with greater responsibility in this regard.

Unfortunately, the role of our Bar Council seems to be frustrating to the objective of establishing an effective judicial system. It is pertinent to understand the concept of the effective judicial system and its importance along with what it aims for. In discussing that, the opinion of Prof. Sidgwick can be stated here-… for determining the nation’s rank in the political civilization, no other test is more appropriate than the degree in which justice defined by law, is realized in its judicial administration. Thus, the principal function of the judicial system is to ensure justice to the people through proper interpretation and application of law. In particular, it is called upon to defend people from ills and evils of the society and accelerates social advancement, protection of human rights, bringing justice to the doorsteps of the people. Thus, to fulfill this purpose, competent, skilled, professional, and enthusiastic lawyers are required.

The reason behind that stated in Bangladesh Bar Council and Others vs. AKM Fazlul Kamir and Others, 2017 that, it is the primary duty of the lawyer to inform the court about the law and facts of the case and also to aid the court in doing justice by arriving at the correct conclusion.

The Bar Council of Bangladesh is constituted under the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order, 1972 to promote legal education and to lay down the standards to such education and to develop the quality of the lawyers. Section-11 of the said order empowered Bar Council to constitute a number of standing committees, including a Legal Education Committee. Though in accordance with this provision, the Legal Education Committee was formed from time to time, it achieved no mentionable success than failure. The incapability of the committees has been pointed out in Professor Syed Ali Naki and others vs. Bangladesh and others and Bangladesh Bar Council and others vs. A.K.M. Fazlul Kamir and others. Considering both the cases, it can be traced that, the Bar Council has failed to monitor and take necessary steps in promoting and developing quality legal education.

It is relevant to mention that, The Bar Council of India, in 2010, formed its first Curriculum Development Committee (CDC) for facilitating universities and institutions in formulating the course design in various courses of law and other allied subjects. It established a suggestive benchmark for a minimum level of legal education. Therefore, after maintaining this minimum level, the universities and colleges do have the opportunity to prescribe a higher standard. But, unfortunately, the Bar Council of Bangladesh never took such initiative for generating quality lawyers by promoting quality legal education.

The legal education curriculum in Bangladesh is mostly traditional. Less emphasis is given on skill developments and vocational training, which are very much essential in legal education for ensuring the effective judicial system by the participation of highly intellectual and analytically capable and skilled bar members. Without emphasizing on these, the objective of establishing a competent judicial would remain a dream only. Unfortunately, the Bar Council of Bangladesh is seemed to be not undertaking measures it was expected to take, which is suicidal. Such overlooking and ‘snail’s pace’ can ruin the prospects of the judiciary.

However, it is the prevailing condition of the pre-profession legal education stage. If we glance at its role in the post-profession stage, Bangladesh Bar Council took a policy initiative to train the law graduates under Continuing Legal Education Program (CLEP), in 1993, in order to mould the deteriorating standard of legal education and to impart professional training to the new entrants.

The CLEP courses came out as a significant success in bridging the gap between the academic knowledge acquired and the practical skills required in the profession, and subsequently, the legal education committee deemed it necessary to render the Bar Vocational Course as a compulsory program and also a pre-requisite for enrolment as Advocate.

Bangladesh Bar Council, by the resolution of 2 November 1998, decided to establish the Legal Education and Training Institute (LETI) to implement its education and training program through the institute. It further decided to register the institute under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, so that, it can act as an autonomous manner. Since the LETI was established as an independent body, it used to function under the terms of a contract executed with the Bar Council. But now, the activities of the LETI seems to be non-functional.

Hence by that, the excellent initiative has been stopped, and the way to develop the skills of the law graduate and training of the lawyers has been stopped without any apparent traceable reason. This can also be regarded as a failure of our Bar Council, that left a barrier in establishing a competent judicial system through the participation of capable lawyers.

As far as the enrollment system of the lawyers is concerned, the grudge on the enrollment system and delay in exam often make the graduates move to another profession. A graduate reasonably will not and should not waste 2-3 years for a Bar Council enrollment exam and in this way, Bar Council is losing both good talents and acceptability as an institution. Perhaps the apex court, thus, said in Bangladesh Bar Council and others vs. A.K.M. Fazlul Kamir and others-

Now at this present time, many have been seen conducting cases with a deplorable level of superficial knowledge about facts and applicable laws relating to the case. This result is disastrous, and for that final verdict goes against the party having three previous judgments in his favor due to sheer incompetency of the counsel.

This clearly indicates the urge of enhancing evaluation standard that can reduce lack of capable lawyers in the judiciary.The enrollment system of Bar Council of Bangladesh is not up to the mark. It does not contain any evaluation of skills through a practical mock trial. Only on the basis of the assessment of memorizing capacity, lawyers are enrolled.

One of the saddest parts is the constant failure of Bar Council of Bangladesh to take yearly enrollement examinations despite of the apex court direction uttered in Bangladesh Bar Council and others vs. A.K.M. Fazlul Kamir and others. Here, the absence of good faith of the Bar Council can be seen.

An effective judicial system mostly depends on the strong bar. It is the sacred duty of the Bar Council of Bangladesh to take the necessary steps to develop and reform the legal education in the pre-professional stage and post-professional stage. In addition to that, the advocateship enrollment exam must be taken in time to stop the ‘Brain Drain’ and also the exam system to be reformed so as to ensure the scope to the skilled and capable one. If the emphasis is not given on these, the litigants will be the ultimate sufferer which will not free the Bar from being responsible for depletion in the quality of lawyers and generating specialized lawyers.

In rendering its very role towards the justice system of the country, the Bar must make a choice- wants to be merely a ‘parrot-keeper’ or be the holder of lawyers with profound legal understanding, skillfull presentation and high morals? If the latter is expected, can the Bar as a guardian, be promising towards its aspirants in conducting yearly examinations? Time to think now. The Bar Council is highly expected to be appeared as a savior for the law graduates and take adequate steps to regain its lost glory.

Writer:

Monjur Shariya Bhuiyan, LLM student, Department of Law, Bangladesh University of Professionals.

Endnotes:

  • The Bangladesh Legal Practitioner’s and Bar Council Order, 1972;
  • Bangladesh Bar Council and Others vs. AKM Fazlul Kamir and Others[2017] 25 BLT (AD), (decided by the Appellate Division on 8 February, 2017);
  • Professor Syed Ali Naki and others v. Bangladesh and Others, Writ petition no. 10242/2006 (decided by the High Court Division on April 13, 2016);
  • Jay E, Reform Of Legal Education in Bangladesh’ (1994), Consultant’s Report submitted to the Bangladesh Bar Council;
  • Final Report on Review of Legal Education in Bangladesh [2006], The Law Commission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

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