5 Feb 2008

Law teachers to practice and quota of female law students

These are two news items which really did not allow me to just mention them in the updates section and prompted a separate comment on both of them. The first relates to the relaxation in the rules by the Bar Council of India to allow law teachers to simultaneously practice in courts. The second reports the decision of certain law schools to enforce quota on admissions setting aside place for girls. Since I can relate myself to both these issues, so I better thought wise than not to write on them.

As far the relaxation in rules permitting Law Teachers to practice in courts (ofcourse only when they hold a qualifying degree), the proposal is heartening indeed. [click here for the full news-piece] Hitherto the position had been that those intended to teach full-time had to surrender they right to practice in courts (probably because it was thought that allowing both to be done together would lead to injustice to both the streams; teaching and litigation) and thus those going in the academic mainstream had to shed off the joys which can truly be experienced only a court room.

The reason that is being assigned to amend this situation is cited as the problem of retaining and attracting talent in the teaching profession. While their counterparts in other countries are actively involved in both the courts and class rooms, this is not the situation is India and therefore those exceptionally good ones are siphoned off from devoting themselves to the nurturing of talent as they cannot really leave their litigation-involvement and visiting-faculty method does not really work. I had on an earlier occasion commented upon the deterioration of teaching standards across the country [click here for the full post] and had also pointed out the the pay-structure and the administrative bureaucracy are the major reasons behind this decline of educational standards. This late but subtle realization by policy-makers (I sincerely hope it would be taken further) is indeed not only an acknowledgment of the grim fact but also an attempt to improve the situation.

The second news item reporting about setting aside of seats in Law Schools for the fairer sex. [click here for the news item - I , news item - II ] Sounds good to me for the reason for inbuilt check to be installed; the cut-off criterion for it would mean that education standards do not fall because of reservation. The requirement to score minimum 50 percent would mean that only those serious about law education would be able to realize the benefits of this reservation (and yes, I am aware of the potential pitfalls it may carry but then such a safeguard is required to maintain the integrity of the education system and ensure that those availing the opportunity to enter the law school through the reservation medium do not lag behind later on for lack of ability to cope with those coming of from merit lists).

Though I have been a staunch opposer of reservation (for the way it has been implemented in the country has failed to produce the results which an affirmative action programme should bring about; for more read my earlier post on the issue) but then when the benefit outweighs the fallouts, it is worthwhile to follow the approach in a limited sense. But why do I say this? I say this because this manner of implementing reservation does not do grave injustice. If the female application is able to score minimum 50% marks (as reported in the news items) then she does merit consideration for law school admission and merely because she has been unable to come up on the merit list, does not imply that she should be devoid of the potentials she carries in this proud profession. At least this much the system owes to the bearers of motherhood and fraternity, if we are not grateful for more. If, however, the set aside 30 percent seats are not fully occupied by the female applications, then such remaining seats would be diverted to the general category and thus the system would find worthy and deliverable assets towards joining the leagues of the profession.

For these reasons I find this step worthwhile in the right direction the way it has been promised. However I do not vouchsafe against the possible fallouts that we might come across with a faulty handling of the system and possible abuses that might be set in. But then there is always a hope against hope and I rely on that, keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best for the country and profession.

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