The Fallen Standard Of Legal Education In Pakistan
Ever since Pakistan was liberated in 1947 by the hands of a lawyer whom we know as Quaid- e-Azam, this country has had immense respect for the legal profession. However, with the passage of time, this respect has gone down the drains and this is no exaggeration. If one were to ponder over the cause of such an atrocity, they would almost always find multiple reasons for such a travesty to occur.
Out of all these reasons, the major reason has been the non-implementation of the landmark judgment delivered by Ex-Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar in August 2018 regarding the improvement of legal education regime. The salient features of the judgment were controlling the mushrooming growth of law colleges, introduction of Law school entrance exams, graduate exams and equivalence exams for foreign law graduates. Furthermore, the judgment also aimed at introducing bar vocational courses for young graduates to properly acquaint themselves with the legal profession.
However, 3 years have passed us by, but there has been no holistic implementation of the judgment. If we were to look at our history, the 2018 legal education judgment was passed in lieu of a legal education 2012 judgment of the supreme court, which was filed for the implementation of the legal education judgment of 2007 of the then supreme court, which was filed on the original legal education judgment of 2004. It has been 16 years since these cases have been on and forth the walls of our apex court. Unfortunately, almost every time, no practical steps are taken for the implementation of these measures.
The question that people mostly confuse is that pursuing a profession is a fundamental right of all citizens of Pakistan, but entrance to a profession is certainly not a right, for only a worthy professional should enter their respective fields. For example, imagine for an instance that a mediocre doctor is allowed to practice, would you want to be his patient? If sanity is still inside of you, you would most definitely say no. And then the question begs itself to be answered, is that why the entrance to the legal profession shouldn’t be regulated?
On paper, there have been numerous Supreme Court judgments that have called for reforms in legal education to regulate the entrance to the legal profession. However, they are seldom implemented and actions which clearly violate these judgments have been frequently taken instead.
Recently, the Punjab Bar council approved a notification to pass all students that secured 40/100 marks in the Law Graduate Assessment Test (LGAT) whereas the Supreme Court 2018 judgment explicitly states that 50/100 marks is the minimum passing criteria. Shouldn’t such a step be unlawful and therefore, illegal?
Well, considering the antics of our bar councils, Punjab Bar went one step further. Given the unprecedented COVID-19 situation where HECP was not taking the Law Gat examinations, the bar council used that situation to issue licences to young lawyers on the pretext that the entrance tests weren’t being administered. If this is the approach of our noble bar councils, it is no wonder that there has been a mushroom of underperforming young lawyers in the pristine legal profession.
There is a lot to be done if we are to bring back the glory of the legal profession and it all starts with implementing the Supreme Court judgments.