The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday (11-September-2020) took up the plea by a CLAT aspirant who had moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur Bench) challenging the sudden withdrawal of NLSIU Bangalore from CLAT 2020, to hold a separate entrance test namely NLAT (National Law Aptitude Test) 2020.
When the Bench of Justices Sanjay Yadav and BK Shrivastava took up the plea in the morning.
It was informed to the Court that the Jharkhand High Court had reserved orders on a similar plea (Challenging NLAT) and that the Supreme Court will also be hearing a similar plea today.
[NOTE: The High Court of Jharkhand has dismissed the writ petitions challenging the conduct of NLAT.]
Notably, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, urged the Court to take up the matter later on (after the Jharkhand High Court and the Apex Court make a decision on this issue).
However, the Court was of the view that the foremost issue before the High Court is related to the question of territorial jurisdiction (whether the Madhya Pradesh HC has the territorial jurisdiction to take up the plea?).
To this, the counsel for the petitioner Somit Raizada relied on the Judgment of the Apex Court in the matter of Om Prakash v. Union of India 2006 (6) SCC 207 and reiterated the ruling of the Apex Court that the High Court can exercise power to issue a direction, order, or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution or for any other purpose if the cause of action wholly or in part had arisen within the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction notwithstanding that the seat of the Government or authority or the residence of the person against whom the direction, order, or writ is issued is not within the said territories.
The Court countered the aforesaid argument by citing the Apex Court's Judgment in M/S. Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd vs Union Of India And Anr 2004 (6) SCC 254 which notes that even if a small part of the cause of action arises within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court, the same by itself may not be considered to be a determinative factor compelling the High Court to decide the matter on merit.
Significantly, the aforesaid Judgment of the Apex Court has observed that "In appropriate cases, the Court may refuse to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction by invoking the doctrine of forum conveniens."
In brief, the Madhya Pradesh High Court was not inclined to entertain the matter, since, according to it - the cause of action did not arise in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
After that, the High Court asked the Counsel of the Petitioner, if he wanted to pursue the matter or withdraw the petition and take up the matter before the Karnataka High Court (which may be the appropriate forum for this matter)?
To this, the Counsel for the Petitioner argued that the Court may keep the matter pending until Supreme Court takes up the matter and decides the same on Merits, however, the Court was not inclined to keep the matter pending, taking into account the fact that the issue is alive before the Supreme Court.
The Counsel for the Petitioner, thus, asked for the withdrawal of the matter with the liberty to approach the appropriate forum.
Consequently, the Madhya Pradesh HC allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition challenging NLAT and approach appropriate High Court.
Notably, the High Court of Jharkhand on Friday (11th September) dismissed the writ petition challenging the decision of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, to hold a separate admission test called the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT), after backing out of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for want of jurisdiction.
A Single Bench of Justice Rajesh Shankar had reserved the Orders on Thursday on the petition filed by 5 law aspirants from Jharkhand who challenged the decision of the NLSIU to hold a separate admission test.
(With inputs from the Counsel for the Petitioner Advocate Somit Raizada)