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The Supreme Court today ordered National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) to apply a compensatory formula to candidates who lost time during this year’s Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).
A Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Deepak Gupta passed a slew of directions in a batch of petitions filed by various candidates aggrieved by the manner in which CLAT 2018 was conducted.
Pursuant to the numerous complaints raised concerning the conduct of CLAT 2018 before the Supreme Court, a Grievance Redressal Committee had been constituted by the organizing university, NUALS Kochi. In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the Committee had suggested that affected candidates be compensated with extra marks.
During the last hearing, a formula for compensating such candidates was also submitted to the Court, which accepted the same.
Today, the Court directed that the said formula be applied to all candidates who lost time, as identified by the Grievance Redressal Committee. Out of the 54,644 students who took the exam, 4690 of them attested to having faced difficulties. Those candidates who lost time will be eligible for compensatory marks based on the formula.
After hearing Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Zoheb Hussain appearing for the petitioners, ASG Maninder Singh appearing for the Centre and Senior Advocate V Giri along with advocate A Karthik representing NUALS, two questions came to be considered by the Court:
(a) Whether the entire test needs to be cancelled and a fresh test is required to be ordered;
(b) If the entire test is not to be cancelled, what methodology can be adopted to compensate the students who had lost time and were put to prejudice.
Answering the first question, the Court held,
“Any outright cancellation would visit tremendous inconvenience and hardship upon rest of the candidates. If the interest of those candidates who suffered loss of time could otherwise be compensated, there is no reason that the entire admission test be cancelled or annulled.”
The Court thus invited responses from the counsel as to how the students could be compensated. V Giri submitted to the Court the following chart wherein the formula was applied to four petitioners (click to enlarge):
As per the chart, the number of questions attempted and the number of questions answered correctly were recorded. Based on these numbers, the additional number of questions the candidate would have answered if she had suffered no time loss was calculated. The final marks of the student is then revised, based on the answering efficiency with respect to the questions attempted.
The Court was of the opinion that this normalization could be applied to all 4690 candidates who faced a time loss during the exam. It held that the formula would be the best possible way to compensate the students who lost time, while at the same time not prejudicing the other candidates. The Court also observed,
“Normally, a candidate would first answer those questions, whose answers he is well aware of and leave out rest to be answered in the end. His success rate in the former part would certainly be greater, as compared to the latter. Since he would be given benefit at the same success rate, there would be no prejudice. It is true that repeated interruptions would cause mental stress and upset him. But that aspect as a factor is difficult to be translated in a quantifiable parameter.”
This exercise has to be undertaken by June 15 and the revised results have to be published on CLAT website by June 16.
The second round of counselling will be carried out taking into account the revised results, as was suggested by the Grievance Redressal Committee.
The Court also held that the first round of counselling and any seat allocation made pursuant to the same shall not be affected by the revision of the results, and that any candidate allocated a seat will not in any way stand adversely affected as a result of the revised position.
The Court also made it clear that a candidate who improves upon his score after publication of revised results and thereby becomes eligible for admission to another NLU will not lose the fee deposited with the earlier NLU.
On a parting note, the Court made some adverse remarks regarding the conduct of the exam.
“We must record that we are not at all satisfied with the way the examination was conducted. The body which was given the task of conducting the examination was duty bound to ensure facilities of uninterrupted UPS and generator facility. The record indicates complete inadequacy on that point.”
It therefore directed the Union Ministry of Human Resources and Development to appoint a Committee to look into the matter and take “appropriate remedial measures including penal action” against the body entrusted with the conduct of the examination.
The Committee has also been tasked with ensuring that no such instances are repeated in future editions of CLAT. The Court also observed that the tradition of giving the responsibility of the conduct of CLAT to different NLUs every year needs to be revisited.
The Court further stated that the fees candidates had to shell out was “far in excess” compared to the amount made over to the conducting body.
The Committee has been directed to look into all these issues and submit a report to the Court within three months. In light of the Court’s directions, the petitions pending in various high courts were directed to be disposed of.
Read the order: