CLAT 2020: New counselling guidelines, how to fill preference lists, and more

The changes include the opportunity provided to students to change their preference list after the ranks are announced. Now, NLUs will transfer the registration fee among themselves in case of upgrades.
CLAT 2020
CLAT 2020

The Supreme Court judgment on the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) not only came to the aid of law aspirants, but also urged the NLU Consortium to hasten the counselling and admission processes for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) that was held today.

The Consortium has been asked to finish the admission process by October 15. The released counselling process and guidelines has some vey welcome changes. The changes include the opportunity provided to students to change their preference list after the ranks are announced. Now, NLUs will transfer the registration fee among themselves in case of upgrades.

As the process will be much quicker, parents and students need to be very alert and active. They must keep visiting the website and checking announcements. They must also keep checking junk mails and SMS. They must start collecting the relevant documents that will be required to be very quickly uploaded in case one is allotted a seat in any NLU.

In order to spread better awareness about the process, I am explaining the process here in detail.

Results and admission process, step by step

  • September 28 (2 to 4 pm) - CLAT will be conducted

  • September 28 (evening) – The answer key along with the question paper will be released. Students will be able to calculate their score and also check if there are errors in the questions and the answers provided in the answer key. I expect that CLAT will also release the sheets of the students, as they have been doing.

  • September 28-29 midnight - Representations, if any, relating to the exam, questions or the answers must be submitted by this time. This can be uploaded after logging in to the Consortium’s students page. A grievance redressal committee has been formed comprising the senior members of the Consortium and a former CJI being the Chairman, to after the representation and other grievances of the students.

  • October 3 - The final answer key will be released.

  • October 5 - The merit list will be released which will let all students know their marks, All India Rank, category rank and other details.

  • October 6 (12 pm) to Oct 7 (6 pm) – Candidates, approximately three times the number of seats in each category, will be invited to join the counselling process. They will receive SMS and email in this regard. Although candidates themselves can estimate about the chances of getting a counselling registration call on October 5 itself by checking the rank list and the number of available seats in each category. Candidates have to pay Rs. 50,000 in order to register for the counselling process. This can be done by logging in to the CLAT page. This amount will be adjusted with fee being paid to the NLUs in case one is allotted a seat while counselling and if the candidate is not successful in getting a seat even after 3rd list, then the money will be refunded if claim is registered on time. I will advise parents that they make the payment on October 6 itself.

  • Caution – In general category, if the rank is below 2,000, then there is little chance of getting a seat by the third list, because not more than 300 to 450 will opt not to take a seat. However, one must keep hope and be vigilant enough not to miss a chance. In general category, around 4,500 to 5,000 will be invited for counselling registration. Those below 2,000 may get a chance in the NLUs in the vacant seats allocations, which will begin after October 15. Candidates from reserved categories or quota seats like domicile quota, may get another chance for counselling if the seat does not get filled up even after considering three times the available seats in each category. And in the vacant seats, quota seats cut-off drops down very sharply. Candidates may also opt to get upgraded by applying to respective NLU’s vacant seats. After October 15, there will no mutual transfer of fee between NLUs. Note – In case one does not pay the counselling fee, they will not be considered for any seats till the third list.

    The preference list can be changed in case the candidate wants to. This is part of the registration process and must be completed by 6 pm on October 7. In case the candidate does not fill up the preference list, the the old one will be considered by default. The seats are allotted on the basis of CLAT rank and the preference list. Therefore, students must understand how this works. I have explained this in detail (at the end). CLAT had advised students to fill up at least five NLUs in the preference list, but there is no compulsion. Candidates will be considered for only those NLUs which they have ranked in the list.

  • October 9 [10 am] – First merit list will be published. This list will have names of those candidates who have been surely allotted in the first list. The listed students will be among only those who have registered for the counselling process by paying the registration fee. This will be displayed in the candidate’s CLAT login page and a pdf file of the first list is also highly likely to be published.

  • October 9 (10 am) to October 10 (10 am) – All students listed in the first list must decide on the given three options very quickly.

  • October 11 - The second merit list will be published.

  • October 11 (6 pm) to Oct 12 (6 pm) – Based on the number of candidates who chose to exit from the counselling process and are listed in the first merit list, next candidates in the rank list will get a chance to take admission in the allotted NLU (by locking/upgrade/exit). The same process will be followed as the process after first list.

  • October 14 – The third merit list will be published.

  • October 14 (10 am) October 15 (6 pm) – Same process as mentioned for the other lists.

(a) Locking the seat

By selecting this option, you agree to accept the allotted seat. No further changes will be considered. Candidate will not be upgraded to his/her higher option, even if vacancy arises at a later stage. Candidate has to upload all the required documents and make payment of requisite fee to the allotted NLU.

(b) Applying for Upgrade

Candidates opting for upgrade are also required to make the payment of the requisite fee to the allotted University and upload documents as per the schedule. Only candidates who have taken admission, paid the requisite fee, and uploaded the documents with the allotted NLU will be considered for upgrade. For candidates who have chosen to upgrade, the current allotted seat will be locked and he/she will be considered for allocation in any of the higher preferred NLUs, in case vacancy arises.

(c) Exit from CLAT admission process

If you choose this option, you forfeit your claim for any seat allotment from the CLAT consortium. You will lose your current allotted seat and you will not be considered for allotment in the subsequent lists also.

Note: If you do not exercise any of the options above, i.e., (a), (b) or (c) within the specified time, it shall be deemed that you are not interested in the admission process and your candidature will not be considered for admission. You will lose your current allotted seat and your name will be removed from the counselling process and will not be considered in subsequent lists. Candidates who did not get allotment in the First List will have to wait for the Second List and Third List.

In case a candidate has been listed for a NLU and then exits the counselling process, he/she will get a refund of Rs 40,000. Those who paid Rs 50,000 for the counselling process but did not get any seat allotted by the Third List will be able to get full refund.

It is important to note that the exit option is to be exercised only when one is sure that he/she cannot get admission to a desirable NLU. One must lock the option if one is sure about not accepting any possible upgrade. Many potential candidates spread a rumour (deliberately to gain advantage) that if you do not lock the seat and you do not get the upgrade, then you will lose the presently allotted NLU. This is a well-planned game by few to mislead you. Once an NLU is allotted, at least that one is 100 per cent confirmed for the candidate, even in case one choses the option of upgrade.

In fact, the Consortium will ask you to pay the full fee and complete the admission process at the allotted NLU in the first list even if you choose to keep the upgrade option on. You must exercise the lock option in case you feel that either the upgrade to a more preferred NLU is impossible or what you filled up was wrong and the presently allotted NLU is the most preferred one for you.

Upgrade option is to be opted when one decides that he or she will be willing to get upgraded to the next preferred NLU in case given a chance. In that case, your fee will be completely transferred to the other NLU by the NLU where you took admission after the first list. This transfer may also happen if the candidates get a third upgrade.

Admission process at the allotted NLU

Once you are allotted an NLU, you need to take all the instructions from the respective NLUs only. The details will be released on the respective websites. There are two important processes once the allotment to an NLU is done. Firstly, the payment of the first semester fee (and not the annual fee this time) to be transferred maintaining the deadline (Rs. 50,000 counselling fee will be adjusted against thus). Secondly, all the needed documents must be uploaded within the deadline.

How to fill up the preference list

It is very essential to understand how this preference list contributes along with the rank one gets in the allotment of seats.

But this time, knowing the approximate rank cut-offs becomes very important. This page has the details of all NLUs along with the cut-offs for 2019.

This preference list can be followed in case you do not have any genuine locational advantage or other constraints:

1. NLSIU, Bangalore

2. NALSAR, Hyderabad

3. WBNUJS, Kolkata

4/5. NLIU, Bhopal/NLU, Jodhpur

6. GNLU - Gandhinagar

7/8/9 RGNLU, Patiala/HNLU, Raipur/RMLNLU, Lucknow

10. NLU, Odisha

11. MNLU, Mumbai

12/13. NUSRL, Ranchi/NUALS, Kochi

14. CNLU Patna

If you want to deviate from the normal ranking by a big margin, then you must have a good reason. For example, a student from Bhopal has a very valid reason for deviating from the normal ranking. Say, he has a rank of 23. In this case, he can fill NLIU Bhopal as the first preference (otherwise he will get NLSIU and later this can not be changed) and after this, normal ranking can be followed.

I will publish one more very useful and authentic guidance note on ranking of NLUs and other colleges very soon.

In case you are getting confused about ranking of some of the closely rated NLUs/colleges, then do proper research. Placement data of each college is easily available. google it. You can Google "Rajneesh Singh NLU ranking" to find my articles on popularity index of CLAT takers. My ranking is very close to this. You can visit the websites of NLUs. NLU students can be a good resource, but refrain taking advice from those who criticize other NLUs. Try to get what good things their NLU has. They will obviously try promoting their college, but you can dig out correct info smartly.

These are the top 5 parameters in ranking a college, in descending order:

1. Quality of students (Average CLAT rank)

2. Placements

3. Infrastructure (websites of colleges)

4. Faculty (difficult to get the correct information, but can take feedback from some neutral people)

5. Vice-Chancellor/Director and the administration

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