Exemptions For Foreign Law Graduates Set Aside By Lahore High Court
In a recent decision, the honourable Lahore High court has set aside the exam exemptions being given to foreign law graduates. Appearing as a counsel, I vociferously argued before the honorable High court that people in similar situations should be treated in a like manner by relying on the dictum laid down by superior courts. The segregationist policy of giving exemptions to foreign law graduates was in practice for the past so many years. It was a similar situation akin to what was witnessed in the United States of America many years ago, when whites had separate schools and blacks were not allowed to get admissions there. This continued until the landmark judgment of Brown vs Board of Education where it was held that ‘no one is more equal than the other’.
It was shocking to see that foreign law graduates neither study civil procedure code, criminal procedure code nor do they study the Constitution of Pakistan and jurisprudence developed in labour laws, service matters and other subjects in Pakistan. These foreign law graduates were getting exemptions in violation of Punjab Legal Practitioners Bar Council Rules 1974. A local law graduate in Pakistan studies five years BA-LLB programme whereas these foreign law graduates were studying three years programme only and still getting an exemption in the bar council exam, which is a violation of Article 25 of Constitution of Pakistan 1973.
The decision of honourable Lahore High Court is a step towards reforming the legal profession where foreign law graduates not studying any law applicable in our country would have to now study local laws and sit the bar council exam before getting a licence to appear before the subordinate courts. This is also a lesson for the private law colleges in Pakistan which are providing sub-standard tuition services on behalf of University of London external degree programme, minting money and not providing quality education because the students enrolled in such programmes are not well versed in local laws, and practicing in local courts has become a challenge for them. When a local graduate in Pakistan has to appear in the bar council exam, even if he or she has to practice abroad, he or she still has to appear in that country’s bar council exam, then how come foreign law graduates are to be given exemptions. Hats off to the honourable Lahore High Court for declaring that ‘people in a similar situation should be treated in a like manner.’
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