HEC’s stubbornness may put future of law students at stake


–Thousands of law students asked to appear in entry test in violation of SC judgement

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) stubbornness could put the future of thousands of law students at stake, as the already enrolled students in three-year LLB programme are being asked to appear in Law Aptitude Test (LAT) in sheer violation of the Supreme Court’s judgement.

The LAT test is only mandatory for admission to LLB programme for new students and no new admission has been allowed in LLB 3 years programme after the Supreme Court’s decision, which banned the programme after December 31, 2018.

However, ironically, despite clear order by the apex court and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC)’s letter to the Commission, the HEC showed no leniency and asked the students to appear in the LAT test to be held in various parts of the country on March 17, 2019 along with the news aspirants to be admitted in 5-year LLB programme.

The students expressed serious concern as in case they did not qualify the entry test, inquiring whether the government will compensate for the financial and time losses since the test is mandatory only for new candidates, and not for the enrolled students.

The PBC in a letter to the HEC, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, reads, “The Supreme Court banned LLB 3 years programme after 31-December-2018 and presently only 5 years LLB program in vogue, now LAT entry test is meant only for admission to 5 years LLB programme.”

The letter further reads, “It will, therefore, not be in accordance with directions of the SC rather it would be a violation thereof if the test is held for 3 years LLB programme as well.”

The PBC stated in the letter that in compliance with the order of SC dated 06-03-2018, the HEC conducted the first LAT entry test in July/August, 2018, for which “the Commission got published an advertisement in the national press on 12-06-2018, especially mentioning that the said test is for admission in 5 years LLB programme and there was no mention regarding 3 years LLB programme for the reason that the said programme had to be closed down in 2018.”

A student, Sardar Aman Ullah Khan, in his petition against HEC chairman filed in SC, pleaded that the LAT test is going to be held on March 17, 2019, which is a violation of the order of SC; hence the matter needs early adjudication.”

Moreover, University Law College, Punjab University, in letter to HEC also raised objections to the said test and conveyed, “The judgement dated 31-08-2016 passed by apex court, arrived in the matters concerning LLB 5 years programme, therefore, as our understanding, LAT entry test was meant only for undergraduates program i.e. LLB 5 years programme.”

The letter reads, “In case, if an already admitted students of the law college appears in the LAT entry test and fails, how he/she dealt with, is a big question for the Punjab University as well as for PBC/HEC especially in a situation when admission in LLB 3 years programme is banned for the next years; hence asking these students who have completed half of their syllabus has created uncertainty and psychological anxiety in their minds.”

However, the affected students stated that the HEC conducted LAT in August 2018; however, now suddenly in February 2019, the Commission realised that they want to take LAT for 3 years as well in clear violation of the SC’s order, which they said is contempt of the court.

They said it gives an impression that perhaps HEC is willing to facilitate the new admissions in LLB 3 years programme even after 31-12-2018 or is trying to create hindrances and complications in the implementation of the judgement of the apex court.

Ayesha Ikram, HEC Director Media, could not be reached for her comments on the issue despite calls and WhatApp messages.