The Supreme Court today agreed to examine alleged discrepancies and flaws in the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), a pre-requisite for admissions in 16 National Law Universities (NLUs), and sought responses from the Centre and Bar Council of India to a PIL on it.
It has been alleged in the PIL that the CLAT exam suffers from “seriously defective question papers and answer keys, discrepancies in terms of allocation of seats, release of merit lists, mal-administration, inefficient management and serious policy inconsistencies.”
“We have no problem if things can be improved. You should make recommendations,” a bench of Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda said, adding, “there can never be a perfectly accurate system of examinations.”
The bench issued notice to the Centre, the Bar Council of India and Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, which would be conducting the CLA Test next year and sought their responses within six weeks.
The petition said the actions of the Centre, BCI, and various NLUs in the country “constitute serious violation of the sacrosanct rights guaranteed under Constitution of India to various prospective law students, including the right to guard against arbitrary actions of the state (under Article 14) and the right to education and other connected rights within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.”
CLAT is held every year for the purpose of admissions to Graduate and Post-Graduate programmes in the discipline of law offered at the NLUs in India. It is held each year by different NLUs in rotation.
The plea filed by advocate Shamnad Basheer, Founder and Managing Trustee of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA), a non-profit movement to train underprivileged students, said there was no grievance redressal mechanism under the present CLAT structure.
It sought constitution of an expert committee to study the working of CLAT and suggest immediate institutional reforms for conducting a better, non arbitrary, more competent and consistent Common Law Admission Test.
It also sought direction to the respondents “to constitute an independent professional permanent body tasked with conducting CLAT on an annual basis minimising the scope for errors in paper setting and in the administration of the exam, including framing of syllabus, determining application fees and concessions, format of exam, declaration of results, announcement of merit lists, counselling and allotments.”