The Bar Council of India (BCI) has directed law schools to forbid their students from undertaking internships outside of their university vacations.
In an 11 September letter sent to the registrars and heads of all law schools, and to the secretaries of all state bar councils, the BCI wrote:
“It is noticed that some of the Universities/Colleges are sending their students for internship during academic session. The students can only take internship during the vacation (academic session is not on). The Universities/Colleges are directed that henceforth they should send their students for internship to the Law Firms, Senior Advocates only when there is a vacation of Universities/Colleges.”
BCI secretary Jogi Ram Sharma, who had signed the letter, commented: “As per ‘university’ rules [students] are supposed to go on internships. But when the academic session is on, if few go for internship, while the rest are having classes, how will the shortage [of students in a lecture] be accounted [for]? So all students should go for internships together [during the vacations] and not turn by turn.”
Sharma said that there would be no exception to this new direction, whether students arranged internships on their own or the internships were college-arranged, and whether the student were admitted in a national law university or elsewhere.
When asked about application to students of the 3-year LLB in colleges such as Delhi University or Government Law College, where many students intern all year round, he said: “In the Bombay University September and October is the vacation [period]. [The colleges] should say that [they] will organise internships for all students during this time and not allow them to go during classes.”
Sharma said that there would be no exception to this rule even for students who meet the university attendance requirements despite interning during the semester. “If out of 60 in a class, 20 people are interning how will the class be filled? We cannot regulate this way.”
If students were allowed to intern if they fulfilled attendance percentages, everybody would bring in a certificate, said Sharma, which the BCI was not open to.
Around this time last year the Supreme Court banned interns from entering its premises on Mondays and Fridays, on the request of practicing lawyers, while this year the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) banned interns from its main canteen during 12:30 to 2:30 – the lunching hours of practicing lawyers.