With an increase in the number of law graduates, the competition is also rising at the same level. To be more qualified, fresh law graduates take up a Master’s degree in Law i.e. LL.M. to bring themselves the required professional knowledge.
This LL.M. course was introduced by the University Grants Commission in 2013 as a ‘one-year’ course consisting of two semesters which is now being removed by the Bar Council of India and instead a ‘two-year’ LL.M. course is being introduced.
A notice has been issued by the Bar Council of India under the Bar Council of India Legal Education (Post Graduate, Doctoral, Executive, Vocational, Clinical, and Other Continuing Education) Rules, 2020 stating introduction of the new LL.M. course which would be of two years consisting of four semesters.
Apart from the introduction of the two-year course, it also states about the entrance exam to be conducted for admission into this course which will be an all India level entrance exam or as the case may be and the admission will be provided based on the score obtained in it.
The qualification and the duration of it have been stated in Chapter II:
(a) “A pass in the three year LL.B. or a five year LL.B. in an integrated law degree course is the entry level qualification securing percentage of marks as may be notified by the Entrance Examination Testing Body of Bar Council of India either through All India Entrance Test or at the state level as the case may be.”
(b) “The post-graduate course in law leading to Master Degree, in short, LL.M. has to be two years’ duration spreading over four semesters.”
However, this course is restricted only to the law graduates and the Master’s degree obtained from any other Open System without having LLB./BA.LLB. degree entry level qualification shall not be designated as LL.M.
The rule also stated that –
“No University shall admit and award any Master’s degree in law (LL.M.) to any person who has not obtained (i) the degree of Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) after graduation in any subject or area or discipline or (ii) an Integrated degree such as, BA.LL.B, or BBA.LL.B. or B.Sc.LL.B. after studying at least a minimum period of five years.
A Master degree in any specialized branch of Law offered in the Open System to any graduate, such as Business Law or Human Right, or International Trade Law without having LL.B./BA.LL.B as the requisite entry level qualification shall not be designated as Master’s Degree in Law (LL.M.) but can be designated in any other manner attracting the immediate attention of anyone that such a degree holder may not be a Legal graduate.”
This, however, is a restriction that is seen in good light as having a graduation degree is a must for becoming an advocate and simultaneously pursuing LL.M. as the above-mentioned degrees are not equivalent to LL.M.
Regarding the Post Graduate Common Entrance Test in Law (PGCETL), the rule states that this exam would be conducted by BCI.
The introduction of this exam is expected to be in September, till then the other colleges can continue with their entrance tests and provide admission to the students.
Once the official notice is passed by the BCI, it will become mandatory to give admissions to the students based on the merit list of the PGCETL.
This can be seen as a benefit for the students applying for a Master’s degree as they no longer need to give multiple exams for different Universities/Colleges and can be admitted with a PGCETL score.
With regards to the LL.M. done from a foreign University, it has been said that the LL.M. degree obtained from such a university will be accepted only if LL.B. is done from any foreign university that has the same equivalence in India.
“LL.M. degree obtained from a Foreign University, which has been prosecuted without an equivalent LL.B. degree shall not be equivalent to Indian LL.M. degree.”
Rules regarding one year LL.M. done from a foreign university –
“However, one-year LL.M. degree obtained after an equivalent LL.B. degree from a highly accredited foreign university may entitle the person concerned to be appointed as a visiting professor in an Indian University for at least one year or so as to consider such one-year LL.M. degree with one year teaching experience as a Visiting Faculty/internee faculty/clinical faculty the Master degree obtained on one-year term may be considered equivalent.”
This makes it clear that an LL.M. degree obtained from any other foreign university which does not have the same equivalence to an Indian university will not be considered in India.
This might create a restriction for people wanting to pursue LL.M. from a foreign university until and unless it is recognized in India.
A student-teacher ratio condition has also been prescribed which needs to be fulfilled to offer an LL.M. course. The ratio given is 1:10 with a maximum strength of 20 students in each specialisation subject along with 50 students in the overall LL.M. program.
In the institutions, the faculties should not be less than 10 of which a minimum 4 should be Professors or Associate Professors, the notification has elaborated.
It also stipulates:
“If there is no specialisation offered in the LL.M. under general program in the omnibus one content of the LL.M. course all students in the program admitted may take the general course. Provided that in such a case the Degree Certificate shall not mention any area of specialisation.”
The notification also provides for the details regarding the compulsory and common papers to be offered by the institutions. A student seeking an internship in the final semester shall be provided with the same and be put into an internship in teaching for at least three months under a senior professor within the same or any other law school.
The Executive LL.M. Program as the notice specifies it is a law degree from any recognised university and shall be a three years course consisting of six semesters.
The rule noted:
“Course design shall be same as a regular LL.M. course for 2 years i.e. 4 semesters. Teaching-learning methods of rest period of one year (within 2 semesters) to adopted are weekend class-room, class room study in weekends, long vacation of the University at a suitable time schedule for legal professionals/Law Teachers, preferably in the evening and online instruction and course-work; paper-writing/project research on any other innovative method of effective teaching-learning.”
The B.C.I Trust is set to establish such an institution or might ask NLUs to enhance the quality of teaching. This course will be provided at only those institutions which have special faculties and other requirements for research work.
Thus, this LL.M. course provides a step further to law enthusiasts with detailed education and training.