Top
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

Short Notice & Technological Requirements For NLAT Deprived Large Number Of Students To Participate In The Test: SC Reasons To Quash NLAT [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Sep 2020 6:53 AM GMT
Short Notice & Technological Requirements For NLAT Deprived Large Number Of Students To Participate In The Test: SC Reasons To Quash NLAT [Read Judgment]
x
"Common Law Admission Test for all the Law Universities is both in the national interest as well as in the interest of the education."

The Supreme Court, while quashing the decision of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru to hold a separate admission test by way of the National Legal Aptitude Test (NLAT), observed that the short notice and technological requirements insisted by the University deprived a large number of students to participate in the test violating their rights under Article 14...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

The Supreme Court, while quashing the decision of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru to hold a separate admission test by way of the National Legal Aptitude Test (NLAT), observed that the short notice and technological requirements insisted by the University deprived a large number of students to participate in the test violating their rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Three Judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also held that Admission notification is issued without recommendation of Academic Council is not in accordance with the provisions of National Law School of India Act, 1986. It said that Common Law Admission Test for all the Law Universities is both in the national interest as well as in the interest of the education.

The bench, also comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah delivered a 107 paged judgment citing reasons for quashing NLAT. The following are the issues considered and the answers reached by the bench.

(1) Whether the petitioners have locus to file the writ petition?

The NLSUI had questioned the locus of the petitioners to file a writ petition. The bench rejected this objection. It also noted that a person, who has worked as Vice-chancellor of and was also member of Consortium, which is entrusted to conduct CLAT, he is fully competent to espouse the cause of education by means of the writ petition.

(2) Whether the admission notification dated 03.09.2020 by respondent No.1 could have been issued only after recommendations to that effect by the Academic Council, which is the statutory authority under the Act, 1986 for admission of the students to the five year integrated B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) Programme 2020- 2021?

Referring to the provisions of the Act, the bench observed that NLSUI was required by the Statute to obtain recommendation of Academic Council before proceeding to hold NLAT by issuing admission notification. Admission notification dated 03.09.2020 having been issued without recommendation of Academic Council is not in accordance with the provisions of Act, 1986 and is unsustainable, the bench held.

(3) Whether the respondent No.1 being founder member of Consortium of National Law Universities, a registered society, is bound by its Bye-Laws and was obliged to admit the 37 students for integrated B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) Programme through CLAT 2020?

The Court noted that CLAT had come into existence after a lot of discussion, deliberation. It added that to conduct a Common Law Admission Test for all the Law Universities is both in the national interest as well as in the interest of the education. Being members of the Consortium, NLSUI ought not to have proceeded with holding a separate test namely "NLAT" nor the academic year 2020-21 be required to be declared as "zero-year" even if the course starts in the mid of October, 2020, the Court said. The bench further added:

"Thousands of the students who aspire to have a career in law look forward to the CLAT as a prestigious test and CLAT has proved its usefulness and utility in this country. Students look forward to the Consortium for providing correct and fair assessment of the merits of the students. The bye-laws under which members are required to admit the students in their law universities on the basis of the CLAT for UG and PG law courses are binding on the members. Bye-Laws although are non-statutory but they have been framed with the aim and object to be followed by its members."


"Even though obligations on members of Consortium under the Bye-Laws are not statutory obligations but those obligations are binding on the members. All members occupying significant and important status have to conduct in fair and reasonable manner to fulfill the aspirations of thousands of students who look on these National Law Universities as institutions of higher learning, personality and career builders. Further the statutes under which National Law Universities have been established cast public duties on these NLUs to function in a fair, reasonable and transparent manner. These institutions of higher learning are looked by society and students with respect and great Trust. All NLUs have to conduct themselves in a manner which fulfills the cause of education and maintain the trust reposed on them."

(4) Whether online home proctored examination as proposed by notification dated 03.09.2020, lacks transparency, was against the very concept of fair examination and violative of the rights of the students under Article 14 of the Constitution?

Agreeing with the petitioners, the bench observed that permitting of home based online test could not have ensured transparency, fairness and integrity of the examination especially when the test was to be conducted for entrance into a premier Law University of the country. It added that the requirement of fulfilling technological support as envisaged by NLAT as noticed above could not have easily been procured by a large number of students. It obseved:

"Petitioners' case is that due to a short period of notice to apply and due to technological requirement, a large number of students especially belonging to marginalised sections of the society were unable to apply within the time allowed by NLAT. The requirement of fulfilling technological support as envisaged by NLAT as noticed above could not have easily been procured by a large number of students."
"We thus conclude that home based online examination as proposed by the respondent No.1 University for NLAT2020-21 could not be held to be a test which was able to maintain transparency and integrity of the examination. The short notice and technological requirements insisted by the University deprived a large number of students to participate in the test violating their rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. "

(5) Whether NLAT held on 12.09.2020 with retest on 14.09.2020 was marred by malpractices and deserves to be set aside?

The Court said that, for the present case, it is not necessary for it to enter into various materials referred to by the petitioners and the reports and to decide as to whether malpractices were actually adopted in the examination or not. We need not express any opinion in this proceeding under Article 32 with regard to the aspect of malpractices in the test conducted on 12.09.2020 and 14.09.2020 which is essentially a matter of scrutiny of facts and evidence, the bench observed.

Holding thus, the bench disposed the writ petitions by issuing the following directions

(I) The notice for admission to the five year integrated B.A.LL.B(Hons.) programme 2020-21 dated 03.09.2020 Annexure -P 14 as well as Press Release 106 on NLSIU admission 2020-21 dated 04.09.2020 Annexure-P 15 are quashed.
(II) The respondent No.3 [Consortium of National Law Universities] is directed to conduct the CLAT-2020 examination on 28.09.2020 taking all precautions and care for health of the students after following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD).

(III) The respondent No.3 shall also ensure that the entire process of declaration of the result be completed as early as possible to enable the respondent No.1 and other National Law Universities to start their course by the mid of October-2020.

(IV) The respondent No.1 shall also complete the admission of B.A.LL.B(Hons.) programme 2020-21 on the basis of the result of CLAT-2020.

(V) The respondent No.3 may take decision at an early date restoring the status of respondent No.2 as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Consortium as 107 well as restoring the Secretariat of the Consortium as to NLSIU, keeping in mind that scheduled exam of CLAT-2020 on 28.09.2020 is not hampered in any manner.

Advocates Sughosh Subramyam and Vipin Nair has filed the Petition for Former Vice Chancellor of NLSIU, Prof. (Dr.) R. Venkata Rao challenging the sudden withdrawal of NLSIU Bangalore from CLAT 2020, to hold a separate entrance test namely NLAT 2020.

Advocates Shubham Gautam, Baibhaw Gahlaut, Kush Chaturvedi, AOR, Advocates Aditya Shekhar and Priyashree Sharma moved the intervention application for CLAT Aspirants 

Case name: RAKESH KUMAR AGARWALLA  vs. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY, BENGALURU 
Case no.: WRIT PETITION(CIVIL)NO. 1030 OF 2020 

Click here to Read/Download Judgment

Read Judgment

Next Story
Share it