A three Judges bench of Supreme Court quashed the decision of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru to hold a separate admission admission test by way of the National Legal Aptitude Test (NLAT). The bench consisted Justice Ashok Bhushan, M.R. shah, R. Subhasha Reddy.
The Court ordered that NLSIU would have to conduct admission to this courses this year through Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). It said that CLAT is both in the national interest as well as in the interest of education. The bench reserved judgement in the matter on September 17 after giving the case an extensive hearing. Earlier, the Court had allowed NLSIU to conduct the contentions NLAT, however it was held that the results would be declared subject to decision of the Court.
- Case Name: Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University, Bengaluru.
- This was Writ Petition(Civil)No. 1030 of 2020
The petitioners were represented by Senior Advocates Nidhesh Gupta and Gopal Sankarnarayanan and the respondents, the NLSIU and its VC were represented by Senior Advocates Arvind Datar and Sajan Poovayya respectively and Senior Advocate PS Narasimha argued for the Consortium.
NLSIU’s attempt to conduct a separate entrance exam this year resulting in the delayed conduct of CLAT2020 was challenged by a petition that was filed by former Vice-Chancellor of NLSIU, Prof Venkata Rao, and by Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla, father of a candidate. The Court was urged to quash the September 3 notification announcing conduct of NLAT for admissions in NLSIU this year, a prayer was made for the technical requirements to write NLAT and to direct the University to accept students on the basis of the CLAT scores. The Petitioners asserted that NLSIU miserably failed in conducting the NLAT and led to the suffering of large number of candidates. The technical requirements for writing NLAT rendered the exam to be exclusionary and held potential to deny access to many aspirants. The exam pattern was also different from that of CLAT, for which students had been preparing for a year.
The NLSIU and its Vice Chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy took the stand and filed an affidavit justifying the conduct of its exam, questioned the maintainability of the plea and urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the writ petition with exemplary costs. NLSIU also argued that the decision to hold NLAT was taken under extreme circumstances. It claimed that the University would have a zero year scenario if it were to take admissions through CLAT. The University is the only one in the Consortium to have a trimester system, a difficulty expressed to the consortium. It claimed that despite this the Consortium decided to postpone the conduct of CLAT, which is scheduled on September 28. It even defended the format of NLAT and claimed that the pressure threshold is much lower than that of CLAT. It defended that the AI-based technology by claiming that it was engaged in order to identify any instances of malpractice and cheating and such students would be disqualified.
The Court stated,
“In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the considered opinion that Admission notification dated 03.09.2020 issued by respondent No.1 was not in accordance with law and deserves to be set aside.”
The Court directed that CLAT 2020 to be held on its scheduled date of September 28, in accordance with all safety guidelines prescribed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the results of CLAT 202 to be declared as early as possible to ensure that Universities can start admissions as soon as possible. NLSIU is directed to accept students for the current academic year only based on CLAT.