The NLU Consortium has filed its counter affidavit in the plea before Supreme Court seeking cancellation of NLAT 2020.
The Consortium has stated that the manner in which NLAT 2020 was conducted violates the students' right of equality of opportunity. The affidavit, filed by NALSAR VC Prof. Faizan Mustafa, in his capacity as the Secretary of the Consortium, highlights the following issues which question the very integrity of the NLAT:
- Lack of publicity given to examination
- Lack of physical accessibility of centres
- Technical errors leading to mishandling tests of students
- Concerns of mass-cheating
- Conduct of a re-examination whose questions were leaked
- Different format, place and time of the examination
"It bears noting that the cumulative effect of these issues of integrity of the examination is the violation of the right to equality of opportunity of the students and aspirants who seek to enroll in NLSIU," the affidavit filed through Advocate K Parameshwar states.
It has been submitted that the University issued a separate admission notice in a "malafide manner" and that its statement that any further postponement of the CLAT would cause it to have a 'zero year' in which no admissions are made is not only "flawed", but also in "ignorance of facts".
"It is submitted that unlike other NLUs which have semester system and have 5 or 6 courses per semester, NLSIU follows trimester system with just four courses per trimester. This year instead of 4 classes of 60 minutes per day, class duration for two trimesters may be increased to 90 minutes to ensure 60 hour teaching. In this exceptional year, one or two courses may be shifted to subsequent four and half year, If they need to a do 60 hours of classroom instruction as per NLSIU's own affidavit in Karnataka High Court per course, it means 240 hours which works out to be 20 hours per week in 12 week trimester. It is neither impossible nor illegal for NLSIU to conduct 24 to 26 hours instead of 20 classes per week in the first trimester in this extra-ordinary year," the affidavit states.
Inter alia, it is reiterated that the impugned decision was a violation of the Consortium bye-laws, which mandates to admit students "solely on the basis of their CLAT Scores".
"The primary role of the Consortium was to conduct CLAT for all the member institutions and no member institution so far it remains a member of the Consortium has right to conduct its own independent test. The Respondent No.1 - NLSIU has not withdrawn from the Consortium yet is going ahead with its own separate admission test," it is submitted.
The Consortium has also denied NLSIU VC Prof. Sudhir Krishnaswamy's claim that he "protested against postponement of CLAT" but Consortium had by 'overriding his dissent' postponed the exam by a majority vote.
In this context tt is submitted thus:
"It must be noted that the Respondent No.2 — Vice Chancellor, NLSIU, is also the ex officio secretary Treasurer of the Consortium. Hitherto, it was within his realm of powers to circulate the minutes of the meetings of the Consortium. Thus, on 17.06.2020 and 28.08.2020 as well, the Respondent No.2 ought to have circulated the minutes of the meeting recording his dissent. It is not open for Respondent No.2 to now contend that the minutes of the meeting did not record his dissent."
The affidavit further highlights the "Legal Infirmities" with NLAT:
- It is issued in violation of the parent statute (National Law School of India University Act, 1986) of NLSIU
- The Impugned Notification violates the Memorandum of Association and Bye-Laws of the Consortium
- The purpose of the Impugned Notification for NLSIU to avoid a 'zero year', is baseless, irrational and arbitrary.
These submissions have been made in the petition filed by former Vice Chancellor of NLSIU, Prof. (Dr.) R. Venkata Rao against the University's "unilateral decision" to withdraw from CLAT 2020 and hold a separate entrance examination.
On September 11, a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan had allowed the University to conduct the Admission Test as per the schedule. However, the Bench restrained the Administration from declaring the results and making Admissions.
The matter is listed for hearing today.