THERE is virtually no impediment or selection criteria for any law graduate to be granted the license to practice before the Courts in the province of Sindh. The so-called members and officials of the Sindh Bar Council are engaged in “Bar Politics” than regulating the enrolment process of advocates. The Sindh Bar Council has unfortunately become a venture for massive corruption. Several members of the Sindh Bar Council are uninterruptedly involved in issuing licenses to their “voters” & “supporters” without verifying the LLB Degrees and without verifying the criminal records of the so-called advocates.
In the year 2008, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was told that the L.L.B Degrees of 205 practising lawyers across Pakistan were found to be bogus. Undoubtedly, the Pakistan Bar Council & the Provincial Bar Councils, especially the Sindh Bar Council has utterly failed to take steps to improve the enrolment process of advocates, to verify the LLB Degrees and to improve the Legal Education System in the province of Sindh.
The quality and standards of legal education in Sindh has undoubtedly fallen due to the sheer neglect by the members of the Sindh Bar Council. The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to take steps, which were supposed to be done by the so-called Legal Education Committees of the Bar Councils, to improve the legal education in Pakistan. The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan on 8th September 2018 vide its judgment in CP No.134/2012 provided the guidelines for the improvement of legal education in Pakistan. Since the Legal Education Committees of the Provincial Bar Councils and The Pakistan Bar Council have certainly failed to do anything to improve the legal education in Pakistan, the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to put a ban against holding of evening classes of law colleges and had to put a ban on the admissions to three-years LLB programmes.
The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has occasionally sought to address various problems with legal education; the Honourable Court has identified several reasons for the decline of legal education however the Court cannot provide a complete solution, as it is a duty of the Pakistan Bar Council and the Provincial Bar Council to introduce and enforce rules to improve the legal education in Pakistan. The incompetency of the Legal Education Committees of the Provincial Bar Councils is evident from the fact that the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan had to introduce the Special Equivalence Examination for law graduates of foreign universities, and Law Graduate Assessment Test (LAW-GAT) for law graduates seeking enrolment to the Bar, to improve the legal education in the Pakistan.
Unsurprisingly, the Sindh Bar Council is unceasingly issuing licences on fake degrees, on one-year law diploma certifications and on the two-years fast track LLB Degrees, which is contrary to The Bar Council Legal Education Rules 2015 & contrary to Legal Practitioner and Bar Council Act 1973 thus continuously undermining the quality of legal education in Sindh.
Additionally, it is a fact that the Sindh Bar Council does not have any mechanism to verify the LLB Degrees or transcripts of the Law Students or to check/verify the Criminal Records of the law students, resultantly the Provincial Bar Council is issuing licenses without checking/verifying the LLB Degrees and without checking the Criminal Records of law students.
To make the matters worse, under the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973, the requirement of a minimum of two-year experience in district courts, along with an interview, has become a mere formality in the granting of a license to practice before the High Courts.
—The writer is a lawyer, based in Karachi.