Delhi High Court asks for NLU Consortium and Centre’s Stand on Plea for a Home- Based CLAT 2020

The Delhi High Court on August 4, 2020, asked the Centre and the Consortium of National Law Universities (NLUs) to reply to a law graduate’s plea. Explicitly, he challenged the requirement of physically appearing at exam centre for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, he has asked for a completely home-based examination. Like other institutes have done in the prevailing situation. A law student, V. Govinda Ramanan, filed the plea.

CLAT is a centralised exam for admissions to bachelors and masters courses in law in 22 NLUs in the country. The NLU Consortium conducts it. According to the CLAT 2020 notification, the exam is going to take place online at notified centres; where computers would be set up for candidates to access the test.

The counsel appearing for the consortium initially said the plea was not maintainable in Delhi; as the consortium was based in Bengaluru. He also said that it was decided not to hold CLAT at home as it would lead to rampant cheating. The Consortium gave a similar defense earlier, while announcing the examination date.

The meeting of the Executive Committee of the Consortium

The Executive Committee of the Consortium of National Law Universities met on 29th June 2020. On this meeting, it reviewed the impact on CLAT 2020 of the lockdowns and other restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the meeting, the EC assessed the feasibility of conducting the CLAT 2020 through various modes. It concluded that an off-line test, as initially contemplated; would require large scale movement of students to limited centres; and significant logistics in the handling of question papers and answer scripts; which is not possible during the prevalent pandemic conditions. Further, an on-line test at home with technological measures cannot ensure transparency, fairness and integrity; of a high stakes examination process or maintain equitable access to necessary facilities. Hence, the EC concluded that an on-line test at a large number of centres; compliant with physical distancing and public health safety prescriptions; is in the best interests of the health and safety of candidates and test administrators.

– The notification intimating the examination date stated.

Further Instructions

The Consortium will issue detailed guidance with respect to the protocols and modalities of the computer-based, online, centre-based mechanism of the CLAT 2020 for all candidates to aid their preparations for the examination. It will also conduct mock exams for all registered candidates to build familiarity with the test application and interface.

The Consortium appreciates the patience and support of the CLAT 2020 candidate community, and reassures them of its commitment towards conducting the CLAT 2020 in a manner that ensures the integrity and credibility of the examination, as well as the health and safety of all candidates appearing for the examination.

– The notification.

The decisions taken in the meeting:

  1. Firstly, conducting of the CLAT 2020 through a computer-based, online, centre-based test, held on Saturday August 22, 2020.
  2. Secondly, the release of the notification of the full list of examination centres; for the CLAT 2020 to all candidates on July 1, 2020;
  3. Thirdly, candidates could register for CLAT 2020 till July 10, 2020;
  4. Fourthly, all registered candidates could either select or reconfirm their test centres or withdraw their registration till July 10, 2020.
  5. Lastly, if a candidate withdraws from CLAT 2020; a deduction is to take place from their application fee; – Rs 400 for SC/ST candidates and Rs 500 for all other candidates towards processing charges. Refunds will be made by July 18, 2020.

The single judge bench of Justice Jayant Nath asked the central government to inform the court whether it would be permissible to hold such an exam at physical centres in view of the prevailing pandemic. Further, the court issued notices to the central government and the NLU. The Court has asked them to file their replies in the next five days. Additionally, the Court has listed the matter on August 10, 2020.

Latest Notification by the Consortium

In view of the on-going pandemic situation, the Consortium has decided to postpone the CLAT 2020 yet again. Vide notification dated 05.08.2020, the Consortium announced that the Examination stands postponed until further notice. Additionally, the Consortium stated that the the new date will be announced by September 1, 2020.

About the Author

Ishan Harlalka
I am a 3rd year law aspirant pursuing BA LLB. I am deeply interested in learning and am always looking forward to gain knowledge about new subjects. In my leisure time, I try to read books of various genres and by different authors. As people from non-law background may find it difficult to understand legal provisions and jargons, I try to write in a way that my articles are easy to comprehend and after reading them, one can discuss them with others.

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