Student representative bodies of the National Law School University of India (NLSIU, Bangalore), National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR, Hyderabad) and the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WB NUJS, Kolkata) have issued a joint statement demanding accountability and reform in the conduct of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), given the recurring mismanagement and poor organisation of the same.
The statement comes three days after the controversy ridden conduct of CLAT 2018 held on Sunday, organised by the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi.
At the outset, the student representatives have pointed out that the conduct of CLAT is not taken seriously by the current authorities.
As noted in their statement, while CLAT aspirants leave no stone unturned to secure admission into an NLU, the conduct of the test is entrusted to inexperienced organisers, creating new problems every year.
“Under the current system, the test is conducted by the 19 participating law schools by rotation, in the order of their establishment. Resultantly, a new NLU organises every subsequent edition of CLAT from the scratch and with no prior experience of doing so, thereby creating a palette of new problems every year.”
The statement has detailed broad problems identified in the conduct of CLAT through the years. However, this year’s edition of CLAT has been conferred a special place in the following terms.
“However, this year’s CLAT, organised by NUALS, Kochi on May 13, 2018 surpassed all prior records of mismanagement and many meritorious and hardworking students were left disheartened and devastated at the end of the examination.”
In this regard, the statement has made reference to reports of technical glitches, lack of timely technical assistance, non-cooperation from invigilating staff, lack of basic infrastructure, inadequate assistance to differently-abled candidates etc.
To further make their case, the students have also referred to online feedback from this year’s CLAT aspirants.
“According to responses to a Google form published online by Law School 101, more than fourteen hundred candidates claim that they have been adversely affected by technical glitches at 243 examination centres across India.”
The snowballing controversy appears to have prompted the student bodies to push for reforms. As recorded in their statement,
“In this tale of continued apathy, we, as the students of law, and proud members of the legal community feel the need to intervene and address these persistent limiting conditions to the entry of meritorious students into the legal profession.”
The student bodies have therefore raised the following demands:
- The conduct of the examination must be handed over to a permanent professional body which can not only remedy the existing infrastructural and technical problems but also ensure a degree of consistency, transparency and inclusivity. This is in line with the prayer raised by Professor Shamnad Basheer in his 2015 PIL, currently pending before the Supreme Court.
- It is as necessary that some semblance of justice be made available to aggrieved aspirants. Therefore, the vendors responsible for the technical failures should be held responsible.
- It is time to consider moving back to a paper-pen format which certainly leaves lesser scope for such errors than the computerised format that has been forced upon candidates in the recent years. Referring to the choice available to IIT-JEE and NEET aspirants to take their exams offline, the students noted, “We see no justification for denying the candidates the choice of taking the examination without having to worry about system failures and black screens.”
The statement ends on a hopeful note, that all National Law Universities can come together to institute a successful mechanism to deal with this persistent problem and ensure that law aspirants in the country are not hindered from a smoother access to quality legal education any further.
Read Full Statement below:
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