It has been less than 24 hours since thousands of students across the country appeared for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)- 2018 with hopes of their hard-work finally paying off. Little did they know that the only thing consistent about CLAT so far has been its inconsistencies and repeated mismanagement.
Almost all students who LiveLaw got in touch with faced terrible technical snags, with their computers shutting down more than once, more than 10-15 minutes being lost in the meantime. Where the exam had to begin at 3, a few students could begin only at 5:30.
What's worse is that a new online test interface was introduced less than a month before the exam. This interface, students complained, was not user-friendly, to begin with. This, coupled with massive mismanagement, has led to more than just a few demands for a re-examination.
A complaint has already been registered in Jaipur against Mr. Deepaankar Sharma and Mr. Gyan Bissa, one of them being an Assistant Professor at NLU, Jodhpur. The complaint alleges that the duo selectively provided an extension of about 40 minutes to a few students while denying the same to others. Statements of four students have been recorded so far.
With this year's examination being touted as one of the worst ones so far, it is time that the Apex Court steps in on the Petition filed by Prof. Basheer demanding institutionalization of CLAT by establishing a permanent body for conducting the examination. The Petition is set to come up on Tuesday, i.e. 15 May.
Students recall the horror of it all
A centre in Hisar, Haryana
According to sources, students at a centre in Hisar were taking the exam till 8 pm. Several students had to attempt the exam twice or thrice due to technical glitches. The centre saw the presence of the Police, Bar Council as well as media, with students and parents furious with the administration for its conduct of the exam.
Mulund, Mumbai centre
A student who appeared for the exam at a center in Mulund, Mumbai recalled how he lost almost 10 minutes due to such technical glitches. Not only did he find the new interface to not be user-friendly, he was also certain that this was the most mismanaged law entrance exam out of all those he had taken this year.
Here's what he had to say:
"I went to answer my CLAT examination with hopes, aspirations and confidence, little did I know at that time that I'd be coming out after one of the most mismanaged papers ever. I was at the Mulund center where we were told that there was a technical error and as a result the paper was delayed by almost an hour.
When we first answered the paper we were getting all sorts of shapes and symbols instead of what we expected to be questions, on complaining to the supervisor they said wait, I had already lost 2.5 to 3 minutes by then. The entire interface was difficult to comprehend despite the administrative bodies claim that it was "improved". I definitely did not see any improvement whatsoever. All was well for a while until the server crashed again, and the same story was repeated. This was absolutely not expected from a body that conducts exams for the most reputed law colleges in India, during the second server crash I lost more time which was a total of around 10 minutes (including the time I lost in the start).
I was told by the invigilators that I would get my time in the end but they said it is not in their hands and they cannot do anything about it. An exam which was supposed to get over by 5 got over past 6. We spent another hour getting it in writing from the test administrator about what happened. If I had just got those 10 minutes I could have easily got a minimum of 7 marks more. This was not at all expected from an all India level examination. Out of the 3 entrance exams I've given I can safely say that this was by far one of the worst exams ever conducted.
I do hope that NUALS and the board don't take this matter lightly as this is a matter regarding several students future. I would like them to know what it feels like from our viewpoint while standing in our shoes, it's absolutely not fair that you study for 12 hours a day for a month and a half and get this outcome. This was totally uncalled for."
Davin Infotech, Thane (W) centre
Another student who took the exam had to face even worse glitches, having to change the PC he was working on not just before the exam but also during it. In fact, he was allotted the computer being used for biometric registration, and was constantly asked to leave the PC for other students to get registered.
Here are the complications that he had to face:
"Unlike the previous years, CLAT this time was a disaster.
Not just the paper, but the technical difficulties that arose during the exam caused immense pressure and pain amongst the aspirants.
The fact that there were not enough computers available at the site was a shocker to begin with. The support staff was unresponsive, cold and uninterested. Every request that we made was met with silent stares. When the exam began, the questions were partially missing on-screen, while the rest of them were presented in encrypted code. Not a single coherent word was visible. This caused mass confusion, and the invigilators were completely unbothered about it. When we were asked to reset the session, not a single faculty member provided assistance, and the students had to enter staff-login and passwords by themselves. Absence of proper instructions and lack of responsibility amongst the faculty added to the disorder.
The number of times my computer lagged, or crashed, was more than one could anticipate. I was relocated to a different PC twice before my exam and once during the exam. But that is not all.
The exam hall did not have normal air-ventilation. The windows were taped shut, any air-conditioning was absent and handful of fans were arranged for about a hundred CLAT-takers. The hall was so crammed up with students, that there was hardly any elbow space available. No space to keep the rough sheet on. No leg space. The CPU was placed so close to us that one twitch and the test would freeze. To add to that, and the worst part till now, is that the computer I was finally assigned was the same one which the faculty was using for biometric registration. Every time I settled down before the test, a new test-taker would arrive, and I was asked to get up so that they could get them registered. Extremely uncomfortable.
It is my honest opinion that if a student is made to take certain efforts for the exam, not just the study prep, but also the timely payment of fees, printing the admit card, filling forms, and then complying with all the regulations of the authorities, then even the authorities should have some responsibility. We are not animals, and they should not treat us like one. I was thoroughly disappointed with the way things went, and I hope the organizers take stringent actions. We at least need to ensure that this doesn't get repeated."
HI-Tech Institute Of Engineering And Technology, Ghaziabad centre
[This excerpt has been taken from a student's Facebook post.]
This student recalls how she was asked to leave the centre even though she had close to half an hour left as per the exam timer. Parents present at the centre then seem to have called the police and written an email to the CLAT authorities regarding the struggles faced by their children.
Here is the full text of her post:
"Before reaching our exam halls the people at the center told us to go in the examination hall only with our admit cards and Aadhar card and nothing else, not even are wrist watches! Then after the biometric we reached the hall and there too no wall clock was available, we had absolutely no idea what the time was! After some time we asked the invigilator there what was the time, he checked it but did not tell us only said “there is still half an hour left for the exam to start” we told him our demo exam should start at 2:30 as it is mentioned in the admit card, he looked clueless, checked what was written and went to ask another person from another room about it after 5 mins they came and told us to log in.
After the demo exam they told us not to submit our log in on original test right now! Only after two minutes two people came asked us “abhi tak start nahi kiya test, start kro” after putting in our details the system didn’t even show our photographs on it many students felt the same! As we were already stressed as how are we starting late and why wasn’t it communicated to us we did not pay heed to that and started the test. Then while attempting the paper we saw in the Mathematics section 9 Questions were not visible completely, in some questions where the question should’ve been there was blank space, in some questions the options were not visible. We communicated this to the invigilator he said you continue with more questions in some time we’ll tell you what to do, according to the timer that appears on the question paper said 36 min left then came the other invigilator and told us that they’ve communicated the same to CLAT authorities and they will take the measures and will benefit you!
I continued doing the exam and 26 mins were still left according to the timer, when there came an invigilator who told the exam is over you may leave the classroom! Clearly ,26 mins were left according to the timer I told him about this he showed me the time on his phone 5:13 and told me exam is over leave now! I told him my time is still left, he asked when did I start the paper I told him the same like everyone! He said he doesn’t know anything it must be system’s fault and that I need to leave right now shouting at me.
I clicked on the submit button still it came “sorry you can’t submit the paper right now you still have 23 mins left” he said you just leave from here it will automatically get submitted very irritatingly! There were so many people who experienced the same! Their time was also left the same as me! We didn’t have our watches or the time in front of us to know for ourselves when the paper started and should’ve ended!
We don’t even know if we started the paper exactly at 3:00 or not, there was such poor management and communication amongst the staff. After coming out some parents went into a heated argument with the invigilators-cum-caretakers of that college and in the argument those people delivered another line “we didn’t send them any mail regarding the missing questions, we don’t know anything about it” the parents even called the police authorities and they together sent a mail to the CLAT people. And I’m so furious that our marks depend on this thing! So much injustice, and this was the most expensive of them all exams! With soooo many faulty things. I don’t even know now what the hell will happen now!
Kashi Institute of Technology, Varanasi centre
In a Facebook post, an aspirant taking the exam in Varanasi wrote that she had to take the exam on as many as five different computers! Here is an excerpt from her post:
"This is a scam which could be termed as #23crorescam because NLU Kochi has made more than Rs. 23 crore with our application fee.
When I started the exam, I was unable to click the answer of the first question and was neither able to switch over to the next question or previous question and this continued for 10 minutes. After that, my patience ended and I got up and told loudly to all invigilators the time is running and I am unable to do anything.
Then, one of them came and closed the system and I moved to another system where this problem again happened after 15 minutes. Overall, I have my exam fully on 5 computers, which could be verified by CCTVs.
In the middle when the system hanged, invigilators were busy in correcting computers and everyone talked to others which was a clear example of cheating and that could again be verified by CCTVs. In the last five minutes, the same initial problem happened again and I could not do anything but waste my 5 minutes.
In fact, my answer was not submitted because when some second were left, the system again hanged and it was 7 o'clock at that time. So, invigilators told me to go and it will be submitted.
When I asked one of them to bring a complaint register after the exam because I thought it was just my centre's problem, they told that you just complain to CLAT committee. There is no complaint register here"
Dnyan Ganga Education Trust's International School, Thane centre
"The building was under construction with no proper facilities like washroom or sitting arrangements. Moreover, technical glitches. When first we logged in, it was totally a blank paper and after that we logged 20 minutes later with 100 minutes left with us. Though the paper got submitted on time.
Later again, after 15 minutes, we were given 15 minutes to complete out paper but of course, it did no good in all this chaos. The only thing I would like to say is it's not fair. It was indeed the worst administered examination ever."
Another centre in Thane
"The moment I clicked on the 'take test' button, an encrypted text was displayed on the screen. One of the invigilators interfered while I was taking the test, and told something (about the questions in the test) to a person he was talking to on the phone. I wonder what he was doing. He also received 4-5 phone calls during the 2 hour period, and did not care to switch his phone to silent mode. 3-4 invigilators, who were standing right behind me, were gossiping. There was a 10-15 second lag before submitting the test."
"When most of us logged in for the first time, there were random symbols on the screen; we had no clue about what to do. They then asked us to restart but we didn't get extra time and the exam was submitted automatically. Then after about 10 minutes they asked us to login again and gave everyone extra time. In all this there were few who did not face a problem and had a smooth exam.
For me, there were multiple anxious moments because of these technical glitches."
[Note from the author: I'd like to express my immense gratitude towards Ms. Ira Gosavi for her invaluable assistance with this article.]