As law professor exposes poor attendance in law colleges, experts argue that it is not possible to implement strict attendance norms as many students are working or interning while studying
Dr Sharmila Ghuge, associate prof, Jitendra Chauhan College of Law Vile Parle
Let's not produce law degrees, but law graduates in the true spirit”—with this intention, a law professor from the city has sent a twenty-six-page representation to the varsity and Bar Council of India, raising concerns about poor attendance of students in law colleges and the failure to take disciplinary action against defaulting students.
However, legal experts differ on this issue and argue that law is a professional course, and many students in law colleges are already working or interning. Therefore, it is practically not possible to implement strict attendance norms. Some even question the quality of law education in colleges, stating that theoretical law studies are far different from real courtroom practice, which requires taking up internships.
Dr Sharmila Ghuge of Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Vile Parle, has been a crusader and whistleblower, raising concerns about flaws in the legal education system. She recently filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court regarding the minimum number of teaching days not being followed by the university.
Dr Ghuge has now taken up the issue of law students’ attendance, which many colleges overlook, violating the mandatory norms set by the university. She has requested both the university and Bar Council to strictly enforce these norms.
“I wish my representation is accepted on a positive note by the university authorities and complied with by all law colleges, principals, teachers, and students. Let’s not produce law degrees but law graduates in the true spirit.” She said.
Excerpts of the letter
Dr Ghuge highlights the importance of law students attending classes not just for physical presence but to learn the theory they need to practice in courts. While internships provide practical experience, it does not mean that attending classes is unnecessary. Students often use internships or work as an excuse for not attending classes, which is unacceptable. She believes that the attendance issue requires immediate attention from the authorities and a sense of responsibility from the students.
Solutions by Dr Ghuge
In her representation, Dr Ghuge suggests several solutions to address the issue, including issuing a fresh circular to law colleges, appointing a committee to monitor attendance, following an authentic way of marking attendance, putting up defaulters lists, and not allowing students with attendance shortfalls to appear for examinations.
Internships bridge gap
Advocate Floyd Gracias, Counsel, Supreme Court argues that the quality of law graduates is alarming.
They point out that these graduates often lack the necessary skills and face language and other related issues. While attending lectures may increase their theoretical knowledge, the primary concern is whether these graduates can handle the demands of the legal profession. He believes that internships and practical experience bridge the gap between classroom and courtroom, and should be encouraged.
Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal highlights that law is a professional course, and many students are already working or interning. He argues that enforcing strict attendance rules would be practically difficult for such working students. He also emphasizes that law is a matter of practice, and practical experience provides a better understanding of the nuances of the law compared to classroom teaching.
Dr. Ghuge maintains that the 75% attendance rule must be implemented. She cites case laws where the Supreme Court and High Courts have upheld the significance of complying with the mandatory attendance requirement.