Like May 13, 2018, when CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) 2018 took place, September 12, 2020, was a heavy day for every law student examinee who sat for NLAT (National Law Admission Test) 2020. The NLAT 2020 like CLAT 2018 was demoralizing; bringing out technical lapses, mismanagement, panic and pressure on student examinees of time running out. Due to the poor Artificial Intelligence Managing System, some student examinees didn't even have a chance of attempting the test and proving their potential.
I was allotted SLOT 1, where the reporting time was 12:00 PM and the entrance test was scheduled at 12:30 PM.
I had decided to give the NLAT 2020 Entrance test via mobile (through the CoCubes Assessment app authorised by the examination authority), the log-in was done easily in that app via my Application Number and password, which were sent to me at my mail.
The utter difficulty arose in the verification process. I tried verifying my Aadhar Card via the front camera, which took a few minutes to load but was later rejected stating my photo and name were not clear in the ID. It happened almost thrice after that when I lost patience and called the Technical Assistance Number: 8770487330 at 12:29 PM. I told him regarding the whole issue and was asked to share my ID (Aadhar card) on WhatsApp on the very same number. I readily did that but he didn't see the message for around 2 to 3 minutes and then as the time was passing, I immediately called him at 12:31 PM and he asks me the same issue all over again and further asked me to share some proof of such issue arising at the verification time (NOTE: Due to privacy reasons, there is no option of taking a screenshot in that CoCubes Assessment App as soon as you log-in) and the call subsequently ended around 12:34 PM.
I just realized that he too wasn't sure about the next step in my issue. The matter of fact was that it was all happening between 12:32 to 12:37 PM (my slot for the test was scheduled at 12:30 PM and I had not yet started). We need to understand the mindset of any examinee at this particular moment, the pre-exam pressure, and one's family's expectations. Such technical lapses resulting in shoving the examinee in panic mode.
I thought to give the verification part a last try and I then restarted the whole process again in the CoCubes Assessment App. I logged in again around 12:34 PM and to my utter surprise, the verification level which I was trying to clear for the past 40 to 42 minutes didn't even appear and as soon as logged in, I was immediately directed to the questions for the main exam while the timer had already started and was displayed on the top right of the screen.
At this time, the thing I had realized after a heavy day yesterday was I got the full time of 45 minutes to attempt my entrance exam (NLAT 2020) but when I analysed the whole scenario of incidents practically, I noticed that I appeared for my entrance directly when I logged in without even getting my details verified, which was a major issue for a large number of student examinee(s). I can't say whether it was the technical assistant number whom I sent my ID on Whatsapp did something to skip that verification step and redirect me to the exam window, but why, does he had time to focus on and attend my issue when what has come to light now is that the majority of student examinee wasn't even attended properly? I can't put my money on that.
The NLAT 2020, according to this examinee and hearing out the concerns raised by the other examinees was truly indistinguishable when compared with CLAT 2018. It was a sheer swindle by the premier law institute in India to add stars to its valour, no matter if the student examinee(s) passed out under pressure and broken dreams. After a notable number of candidates have shared miseries of technical lapses and verification issues, a technical review committee was formed to strictly review the grievances of the examinees who faced any technical difficulty during the conduction of NLAT 2020. The review committee has advanced for those examinees who faced any difficulty to be proffered another examination slot. The catch to note is that this advancement includes only those examinees who have filed an objection to the technical committee, and they will only be allowed to give the re-test on September 14, 2020, at 12 PM.
NLAT 2020 was full of shambles and should have been avoided completely. Adding fuel to the fire of arbitrariness by the conducting authority, the re-exam is scheduled to take place for a few limited students only. This isn't a level playing field anymore and that too for the premier law institute in the country. Candidates are bifurcated and are being awarded a chance to opt for re-test, based on who has filed a grievance to the technical committee. The sheer arbitrariness is reflected as to there exists no proper bifurcation of candidates for re-test since there exists no normalisation between the varying difficulty levels of the papers presented in the three slots at the time of the original exam conducted on September 12, 2020.
The Supreme Court is yet to pronounce the validity of NLAT 2020. The prima facie outlook with the case in hand regarding the validity of NLAT 2020 (scheduled to be heard on 16 September 2020) should be to do justice with those student examinees who by some or the other way never even got a chance to prove their potential and secure a place in the premium law institute of India. The technical lapses under which I gave my exam without even verifying my details properly (imagine the number of examinees who might have gone through the same process), the below-average AI-managing system resulting in full-fledged cheating (with the usage of ZOOM Video App for linked paper-sharing on the screen) and the hard unfought battle for the student examinees (uncalled warnings on the screen leading to a lack in focussing on the paper) should lead to nullifying the NLAT 2020. Student examinees have invested a year or more preparing, and now sheer arbitrariness and mismanagement cannot supersede their hard work and subsequently cannot deny them to test their 'full' potential for the premium law institute of India, NLSIU Bangalore, as happened majorly in the NLAT 2020.
As one of the student examinee, I on behalf of other examinees say in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "No, No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Views are personal of the author
(Anadi Tewari is one of the student candidates who appeared in the National Law Admission Test (NLAT), 2020.)