The University Grants Commission (UGC) has finally approved one-year LL.M. degree at its 488th Meeting held on September 6, 2012 at New Delhi.
According to the Minutes of the Meeting, "The Commission considered the amendments in respect of UGC (Minimum Standards of Instructions for the grant of the Master's Degree through Formal Education) Regulations, 2003 for giving effect to one year LL.M. Degree as part of restructuring of legal education and approved the same."
The UGC had been actively considering the proposal to recognize one-year LL.M. Degree for the last two years.The UGC in May 2011 had in principle agreed to restructure the two year LL.M. program into the one year LL.M. program.
The UGC had set up an expert committee under N R Madhava Menon, founding Vice-Chancellor of National Law School of India University, Bangalore to examine the proposal. The committee endorsed the move and recently submitted its report to the UGC.
The committee was set up after the HRD Ministry had backed recommendations made by the HRD Ministry's round table on legal education in 2009.
At present, a student spends at least seven to eight years after intermediate to get a masters degree in law. And for pursuing LL.M. alone, it takes two years.
Only India, Bangladesh and Pakistan impart two-year LL.M. The duration had led to students taking up masters programme in universities abroad, said UGC acting Chairman Ved Prakash.
Welcoming the move, NALSAR Vice Chancellor, Prof Faizan Mustafa said, "This was something we had been asking for the last 3-4 years. Our concern was that we were not getting good faculty and second, in the rest of the world LL.M. is only one year. We had been observing that people are not willing to do a two-years LL.M. after doing a five years of LL.B. Therefore, if you want to encourage people to join academia in law then LL.M. should be one year course."
Experts in the field also see this move to encourage research in law and prepare faculty for teaching. The Menon Committee recommended that an all-India test be held annually to select students for one-year LL.M. Talking about the move, Prof Menon had on various occasions said the undergraduate degree in law (LL.B.) is good enough for those who want to practice law. He said that for those interested in serious study of law and teaching, one-year LL.M. is on cards.