With the uproar against the mismanagement witnessed during Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), 2018 getting louder by the minute, the Student Bar Association, NLSIU, Student Bar Council, NALSAR, and the Student Juridical Association, NUJS have collectively stepped forward to demand handing over the exam to a "permanent professional body".
In a Joint Statement issued on Wednesday, they further demand that the vendors responsible for technical failures be held responsible. Besides, they suggest that law aspirants be at the least provided with an option to take the exam offline, citing similar procedure for students appearing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET), and the Civil Services Examination.
They assert, "We see no justification for denying the law aspirants the choice of taking the examination without having to worry about system failures and black screens."
The statement begins by highlighting the difficulties faced by the students over the past few years, with incorrect answers in the answer key in 2014, revised scores and ranks for all entrants in 2015, and similar glitches in the following years. Thereafter, speaking about this year's exam, it says,
"While the exact nature and intensity of such technical glitches, as experienced by candidates, varied between different examination centers, the abysmal failure of the IT vendor tasked with the implementation of technical aspects of the examination is both enraging and alarming. Widely reported instances of mismanagement depict a host of technical breakdowns, including, but by no means limited to, questions not appearing on the screen, unresponsive navigation buttons, the allotted computer systems hanging/shutting down randomly and arbitrary restarting during the test with an advanced timer [See: Live Law]
This failure on the technical side is at the root of most problems that arose. The confusion and frustration of candidates taking the test was, however, further aggravated due to the lack of any timely technical assistance and blatant non-cooperation from the invigilating staff at such examinations centers. Many of the chosen centers even lacked basic infrastructure facilities such as drinking water, a cooling system or uninterrupted electricity supply [See: Lawctopus]."
It further points out how a few candidates suffering from visual impairment and taking the test in Delhi were neither provided with extra time that they were legally entitled to nor given other separate facilities as prescribed under the law of the land.
The Statement then goes on to highlight the need for handing over the exam to a permanent body, echoing the demands made by a Petition filed by Prof. Basheer in 2015 for institutionalization of CLAT by establishing a permanent body for conducting the examination.
It ends by making an appeal to all NLUs to "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."