Shabnam Mulani, 39, is a woman police constable who wants to better her understanding of law as it will aid her in her job. But what stands in her way is the age bar newly introduced by the Bar Council of India (BCI) for law college admissions.
Mulani, who has a post-graduate qualification in psychiatric social work, wished to study law and sought admission to the GJ Advani law college in Bandra last year. Mulani, however, is the breadwinner in her family and has two children to support. Unable to pay the course fees in time last year, she lost out on the admission though she was considered eligible for it.
However, the BCI on September 14, 2008 passed a resolution introducing an age limit for admissions to law courses. As per the new rule, no candidate above the age of 20 would be admitted to the five-year LLB course, which students opt for after Class XII. And nobody above 30 years of age will be allowed to join the post-graduate three-year LLB course.
Mulani’s hopes of studying law this year were thwarted by the BCI resolution as she had exceeded the age limit. In her petition, Mulani states the age bar deprives her and others like her of their fundamental right, and scuttles their intellectual and educational growth.
Mulani’s advocate Mahesh Vaswani said, “The BCI does not have the power to decide the law college syllabus or the age for admission. This power is vested only with the university. The BCI can only decide the code of conduct for practicing advocates.”
Calling the decision to impose the age bar “ridiculous, vague, arbitrary, senseless, and absolutely unjust besides being unconstitutional,” Mulani has urged the court to quash the BCI resolution of September 2008. Vaswani said he will mention the case before court on Monday and seek a date for hearing the following week.