A blueprint for reforming Nepal’s legal education system

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Legal education in Nepal is gaining popularity in situations where there is decreasing enrollment in other subjects. This is a positive sign as it indicates the potential for improvement in the justice sector with the influx of good human resources in the future.

There are 19 colleges in Nepal offering a five-year BALLB programme after grade 12, including Nepal Law Campus, National Law College, Prithivi Narayan Campus, Kathmandu University School of Law, Kathmandu School of Law, Chakrabarti Law College, Bright Vision Law College, Butwal City College, Tulsipur Metro College, Rajasri Janak University (University Campus), Mid-West University (L-School), Far Western University (Central Campus), Kailali Multiple Campus, Tikapur Multiple Campus, Purwanchal University (College of Law), Gandaki University, Pokhara University, Madhesh University, and Kwopa Law College (Bhaktapur).

For LLB, six campuses of Tribhuvan University and Open University offer courses. This means that studying law no longer has to be a daunting task. It is worth noting that the five-year BALLB programme is of a higher standard and comes with a higher cost.

However, the shortage of teachers in colleges outside the valley is currently a major challenge. The current situation in legal education needs improvement.

Attention to improvement

After the Supreme Court questioned the justification of LLB education in Nepal, the Author with his friend Hrithik Yadav filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding a Phase-out of 3 three-year LLB course. This is still pending. Now many colleges across the country also teach (+2) law. The manpower produced here is qualified and thousands of manpower are coming to the market every year.

This programme was brought about by studying under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that the government itself needs middle-level manpower in the judiciary and the Ministry of Law to function in administrative function. Instead of selecting the most qualified law students for a non-gazetted first class officer and a non-gazetted second class positions, the posts are open for everyone to apply for. This has resulted in the court not getting the qualified human resource it needs.

According to Rule 5 of the Nepal Legal Practitioners Council (Legal Education) Regulations, 2020, the curriculum for Bachelor of Law degree programmes offered by educational institutions must cover the following subjects: professional accountability and rules of professional conduct, values, and responsibility; legal research and investigation; practical knowledge and court practice, including legal aid-related concepts and applications; and minimum requirements for determining the course of legal education, such as internships in courts and legal bodies for skill development. This is achievable.

Findings of the study report

The report submitted by Professor Purnaman Shakya, which was prepared by the committee formed to present suggestions for the reform, review, and revision of legal higher education, 2020, stated the importance of producing competent legal professionals through quality legal education.

The BALLB programme has a good quality curriculum, education system, and human resources. However, the LLB program needs improvement as there is a trend of students not attending classes, lacking practical legal subjects, and passing the examination by reading guides/capsules.

To address these issues, the report suggested establishing a National Law University, increasing the passing marks in LLB, and making 75 per cent attendance compulsory. Grade 12 Law students should be able to study BALLB and it seems necessary for them to run the 4-year BALLB programme. In the 15th National Plan of Nepal, the goal was set to develop the legal education and teaching system to meet the needs of the nation and the society.

The report highlights the need to keep the BALLB programme under a special programme and gradually increase the number of students by developing infrastructure. However, Tribhuvan University did not implement this suggestion. This has benefited other private colleges of Kathmandu Valley.

Nepal Law Campus and Prithivi Narayan Campus have ample space to accommodate more LLB students, but the number of seats allocated for BALLB students remains limited. It is important to expand the number of seats available to BALLB students and reform legal education prioritising the interests of students.

Verdict of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has issued an order to all concerned parties to improve legal education following a writ petition (075-WO-1114) filed by Yagyamani Neupane against Tribhuvan University. The Court has stressed the importance of establishing a formal platform for regular discussions, consultations, revisions, and guidance relating to legal education policies and programs.

This includes the publication of textbooks, evaluating the state of law teaching and identifying necessary changes, assessing the ability of law teachers to teach, and recognizing the needs and art of legal education.

The court suggests closing down the LLB programme after sufficient manpower from the BALLB programme. The court states that students who study (10+2) law have no other option but to study law at the Bachelor level. The court directed the Nepal Legal Practitioners Council to analyse the importance of human resource produced by grade 12 law and its focus on judiciary needs.

The Court has also called for an examination of the purpose of introducing law in higher secondary level and the reasons for continuing it. Furthermore, the Court has highlighted that legal language and writing style are different and more technical than ordinary language. Therefore, law teachers/professors should be linked with the study and research of national needs of law and involve students in such activities.

The Court has emphasised that despite the emphasis on what is in the law books, more attention should be given to the functional aspects of law (Law in Action). It is necessary to make law students knowledgeable in legal language and sensitive to language. Practical aspects such as legal drafting, court practice, legal aid programmes, presentation of research articles, visits to the courts, and consultation with the parties should also be incorporated into the teaching.

The Supreme Court has ordered to maintain uniformity and quality in law studies by saying that the university has set separate qualifications and conducts entrance exams. It has instructed to develop a unified entrance examination system in all universities. As the current structure of the Nepal Bar Council is not able to regulate legal education, the Supreme Court has ordered to arrange a division for legal education and a high-level human resource and budget for it.

Thus, in the 116 years since legal education was officially started in Nepal, there have been many changes. The Supreme Court has directed universities, law campuses, and legal professional councils to make necessary reforms. The Court has also ordered the Legal Practitioners Council, along with its chairman, the Attorney General, to carry out the reform process. The courts, the Attorney General’s office, and the Legal Practitioners’ Council will play a significant role in the creation of the legal education curriculum, drawing insights from countries such as India, America, and Australia.

A powerful Legal Education Commission is needed in Nepal to regulate and ensure accountability for all law-campus colleges. The commission should oversee all law colleges throughout the country. Separate law University is also needed in Nepal. Nepal Bar Association and Nepal Bar Council should take a leadership role and inspect the law campuses.

The post A blueprint for reforming Nepal’s legal education system appeared first on OnlineKhabar English News.

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