A recent notification issued by the Registrar of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad has been challenged on account of discriminating against students of the 3-year law course.

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

Earlier this year, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had passed government orders framing guidelines for appointment of law clerks. Both those government orders, which are identical in content, prescribed having a 5-year law degree as one of the conditions for selection.

This requirement has been challenged by advocate Jakkula Sridhar, who claims that it discriminates against those who graduated from the 3-year law programme. In his petition, Sridhar states that the Bar Council of India’s Legal Education Rules makes no distinction between those who graduated from the 5-year course and their 3-year counterparts. The petition states,

“…classification for candidature for a post will not depend on the college, university or in the stream which he had pursued but depends upon the individual capacity of the candidate. In the present case, disqualifying the law graduates from applying for the post of law clerk is nothing but literally treating them as unqualified…”

That is not the only requirement in the guidelines framed by the law departments of both states Sridhar has challenged. One of the eligibility criteria is that candidates should not have enrolled as advocates in any State Bar Council. This, despite a contradictory guideline that candidates would be barred from practising or enrolling as advocates only during the course of the clerkship.

These conditions, Sridhar argues, are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution in that they make an arbitrary classification having no nexus to the object sought to be achieved. Therefore, he has prayed that the High Court declare these conditions illegal and arbitrary.

Today, the matter came up for hearing before a Bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and N Balayogi, who adjourned it for Monday, July 31.