Bar Council of India (BCI) recently decided to scrap the one-year course for Legum Magister (LLM) or Master of Laws. The one-year, post-graduate degree course was introduced in the country in the year 2013. However, according to the authorities, the degree course must be for two years, divided into four semesters. The same was announced through a public notice issued by the BCI called BCI Legal Education (Post Graduate, Doctoral, Executive, Vocational, Clinical and other Continuing Education) Rules, 2020. BCI issued the notice on January 2, 2021, on the official website i.e., barandcouncilofindia.org.
BCI authorities clarified that the one-year postgraduate degree program was introduced in India by the University Grants Commission in 2013. The same course shall be operative until the academic year in which the decided regulations are implemented. In simple terms, the current academic year shall not be affected by these regulations.
The notice issued also contained points regarding the eligibility criteria to apply for LLM. According to the rules, the university is allowed to admit or award the Master’s degree in Law only to those who have obtained the Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree in any subject or discipline. Students who have an integrated degree such as BA LLB, BBA LLB, or BSc LLB can also apply for the postgraduate course. However, they must have studied the course for a minimum of five years. No university is allowed to grant admission or award this degree to a person who is not fulfilling the above-specified conditions.
The rules mentioned in the official notification clearly specify that LLB/ BA LLB is the required entry-level qualification to pursue a master’s degree. A master’s degree in any specific branch of law offered by the open system shall not be considered as an LLM if the person does not have the required bachelor’s degree. These specific branches may include Business Law, Human Rights or even International Trade Law. Instead of LLM, these degrees shall be designated as a Master’s degree in Business Law (MBL), Master’s in Human Rights as (MHR), etc.
Authorities have also clarified that admission for LLM shall be done through the Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law (PGCETL) organised by BCI itself. However, until such reforms are introduced in the system, the previous system of admission shall remain in place. As regards LLM from a foreign university, it shall be equivalent to the degree obtained in India only if the candidate has obtained an LLB degree before. This LLB degree may be obtained from an Indian university or a foreign university recognised by Indian authorities.
The notice also specified that the LLM program is the direct responsibility of the university and cannot be undertaken by any associated institutions. All these reforms announced through the notice shall come into play from the date notified by the BCI.