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CLAT 2017: BCI offers to conduct the CLAT Exam, currently conducted by NLU

Last Updated - September 30, 2016

In response to the PIL filed by Shamnad Basheer, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has now filed its counter affidavit regarding the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test). In its response filed through advocate AK Prasad, the BCI seems to have taken permission to permanently conduct CLAT, from its Legal Education Committee. Prof. Basheer, the founder of diversity initiative, Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA), intended to have a permanent body that could regulate and hold CLAT’s future. He disapproves the idea of having a new national law school figure that would conduct the CLAT. Currently, the CLAT is conducted by 17 different National Law Universities (NLU) on a rotational basis.

Read BCI’s Counter Affidavit to conduct CLAT

If the BCI gets permission regarding the same, it will be seen as the conducting authority of the CLAT Exam. The BCI’s counter-affidavit stated: “That the answering respondent proposes Bar Council of India may be permitted to constitute the body of experts through its Legal Education Committee, to hold CLAT wherein the Legal Education Committee Council could involve some sitting and former Hon’ble Judges, noted educationists of legal education and eminent jurists and such irregularities as complained of by the petitioner herein may be effectively redressed.”

Read How CLAT is a gateway to 17 NLU’s?

Why BCI should conduct CLAT?

With this move, the BCI proposes to lay special emphasis on its power to regulate legal education in the country as per the Advocates Act, 1961. The BCI has submitted that admissions to National Law Universities (NLUs) are being made on the basis of an admission test conducted by a non-statutory body, even though “a statutory body regulating the legal education in the country is duly constituted and is capable enough to conduct such admission tests”.

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The BCI has proved itself to be a responsible body over the years. It proposes to have a fair and transparent mechanism system, for it to conduct the CLAT Exam on behalf of all law institutes in India. It intends to select candidates on the basis of their CLAT Rank in the CLAT Merit List. For this, it will obviously be conducting the CLAT Counselling.

The basis and gradation of standard of law colleges is recommended to be the accreditation granted by NAAC for the time being. The regulator, however, averred that from 2017, it has decided to undertake the process of accreditation of all Law colleges through teams headed by former chief justices of different high courts. Prof. Shamnad, was represented by Senior Advocate K. K. Venugopal with advocates Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Liz Mathew.

Inefficiency of current conducting bodies

In September 2016, the court had issued notices to the Centre, BCI and Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, that asked them for an immediate intervention on a PIL against the opaque and inefficient implementation of CLAT that is held every year for the purpose of admissions to graduate and post-graduate programs in the discipline of law offered at premier NLUs in India. The BCI on the same, failed to respond and was levied a penalty of INR 25,000/- to be paid in four weeks’ time. Contending that almost all CLAT exams have been characterized by egregious lapses, Prof. Basheer sought the setting up of a “robust, structured and institutionalized mechanism for conducting CLAT to avoid uncertainties and reduce the scope for errors and lapses”.

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The petition argued that despite the growing popularity of CLAT, “its planning and execution over the years has been marred with serious institutional lapses and inefficiencies, such as arbitrary and sub-standard question papers, incorrect questions and answers, questions that have no reasonable nexus to ones aptitude for the study of law, wrongful allotments of seats, unnecessary delays and an opaque administration that fails to comply with basic standards of transparency and the norms underlying the RTI Act.” Prof. Basheer has also alleged that “the paper setters have also been accused of extensive plagiarism”.

To substantiate his point further, Prof. Basheer quotes an article from the leading IP Law Blog, “SpicyIP”. It talks about the fact that there is so much of plagiarism in the CLAT Questions Papers, that the paper setters can be charged on copyright infringement. Prof. Basheer, apart from the issue of defective question papers and answer keys, adds that CLAT exams suffer from “severe discrepancies in terms of allocation of seats, release of CLAT merit lists, mal-administration and inefficient management and serious policy inconsistencies”.

Also Read About CLAT Preparation

The CLAT was instituted pursuant to the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2007 by vice-chancellors of the first seven NLUs to be established, i.e., NLSIU, NALSAR, NLIU, WBNUJS, NLUJ, HNLU and GNLU, which in turn was pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court in Varun Bhagat v Union of India and Others, W.P. No. 68 of 2006, decided on 23.11.2007. The CLAT was envisaged as a single entrance examination for all participating NLUs and students were to be admitted based on scores obtained in this test. The test was agreed to be held each year by different NLUs (in rotation), based on their year of institution. Further, the overall supervision and policy-making of CLAT was to lie with the ‘core committee’ (‘CLAT-CC’), comprising vice-chancellors of all participating NLUs.

On 01.11.2014, 16 NLUs entered into a fresh memorandum of understanding (‘2014 MoU’) in supersession of the previous 2007 MoU. Apart from the original seven parties to the 2007 MoU, this new MoU was signed by RMLNLU, RGNUL, CNLU, NUALS, NLUO, NUSRL, NLUJAA, DSNLU and TNNLS.

Also Read About CLAT Participating Colleges

CLAT is a centralized test to seek admission in the 17 NLU’s in India. The CLAT Scores are also considered by some private law colleges and Public Sector Undertakings for admission and recruitment respectively. The CLAT 2016 was conducted on May 8, 2016 by Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL). The CLAT Result 2016 were declared on May 21, 2016. We hope whatever the future of CLAT holds, works for the best for students.

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