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Lawyers not getting 50% marks can’t vote: SC

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Lawyers not getting 50% marks can’t vote: SC
Top court says it wants to improve quality of the bar




The apex court has barred the lawyers who get less than 50% marks in Law Graduate Assessment Test (Law-GAT) from voting at bar councils’ elections.
A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Monday issued this order while hearing a petition seeking voting rights for new lawyers.
The bench also barred those lawyers from voting who did not sit the exam due to the coronavirus pandemic and noted that new lawyers will get the right to vote on passing Law-GAT with more than 50% marks.
“We have to improve the quality of bars. Lawyers who did not get 50% marks should not get the right to vote,” noted Justice Bandial.
The lawyers’ counsel argued that there is no compilation of the questions that appear in Law-GAT. The test also contains questions from topics not included in the syllabus, he said.
Justice Bandial said that the lawyers who did not get the required marks in the Law-GAT can practice but new lawyers will get the right to vote only after passing the test by getting over 50% marks.
The court also then directed the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to consider preparing a set of questions for the Law-GAT. The bench later adjourned hearing of the case for an indefinite period.
The Supreme Court vide its order dated March 6, 2018 directed the PBC to restore the Law-GAT through the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The purported objective of the assessment test was to ensure proper scrutiny and evaluation of new law graduates desirous to join the legal profession so that competent individuals possessing necessary basic knowledge of law might enter the legal profession.
According to the order, a law graduate can now become eligible to apply to a bar council for enrolment as an advocate only if he qualifies the assessment test conducted by the HEC.
The PBC had authorized the HEC to conduct the test in view of the Supreme Court order read with Section 26(cc) of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973 and the PBC rules.
The PBC – the highest elected body of lawyers in Pakistan – was established by parliament in 1973 under the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973. It has twenty-two members elected from across the country representing each province.
The HEC is an statutory regulator whose main functions are funding, overseeing, regulating and accrediting the higher education institutions in the country.

 

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