The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad has directed the Registry to amend a notification, which precluded holders of the 3-year law degree from applying as law clerks.

On July 18, the Registrar had invited applications for law clerks to assist judges of the High Court. The notification lists having a 5-year law degree from a recognized university as one of the prerequisites for application.

This requirement was challenged by advocate SM Saifullah, represented by Jakkula Sridhar before the High Court. Last week, the Court had adjourned the matter to Monday.

And yesterday, the Bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and T Rajani saw no reason as to why 3-year LL.B. degree holders should be prevented from applying as law clerks. The Bench noted that a similar notification for law clerks at the Madras High Court allowed graduates of the 3-year to apply.

                            Justice-ramasubramaniam

However, the Bench made an exception for those who have obtained the 3-year LL.B. degree through a distance learning program.

“But, at the same time, it should be remembered that persons who had completed a 3 year law degree, through distance mode, who are not eligible to get enrolled in the bar council, cannot apply for the post of law clerks. There are lot of institutions which offer 3 year law degrees, without the candidates having to strain themselves by attending classes and writing examination.

The object of appointment of fresh law graduates as law clerks was not intended to provide employment, but to provide an opportunity to fresh law graduates to hone their skills. Therefore, the first contention relating to the exclusion of holders of 3 year degree in law  is upheld with a caveat.”

The petitioner had also challenged the requirement that the applicants should not have enrolled as advocates in any State Bar Council. This requirement, the Court opined, was based on sound reasoning.

“A candidate, who is already enrolled, may have commitments to his clients. The engagement of a person as a law clerk, would involve the exposure of such candidates to confidential matters, both on the administrative side and on the judicial side.

Therefore, any conflict of interest that a practising lawyer may have in such circumstances, was sought to be avoided by providing the prescription in para 5(iv) of the notification. Hence, we do not think that the second objection can be upheld.”

Thus, the Court directed the Registry to amend the notification accordingly, and to extend the last date for applications, if necessary.