Breaking: Supreme Court refuses stay on publication of CLAT 2018 results

The Supreme Court today refused to stay the publication of results of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018.

A Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar gave the green signal for publication of results, which is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Court made these observations after National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) today submitted its report to the Supreme Court on the complaints received in relation to Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018.

The report was placed in sealed cover before the Bench.

As Senior Counsel V Giri, appearing for NUALS, submitted the Committee report to the Bench, Justice Rao inquired if he had instructions regarding the time taken by the expert committee to examine all the grievances.

Giri informed the Court that considering that a large number of complaints do not delve into the specificities of the problems faced, and another chunk of complaints are repetitive, the Committee would take a considerable amount of time to consider all the grievances. The Court was informed that almost six thousand complaints were received by the Committee.

Justice Rao suggested to the respondents to weed out the duplicate complaints and look only at the genuine ones.

Giri suggested that only the 251 initial complaints, which were to be considered in Phase one by the commitee, should be considered, but this suggestion was met with instant resistance by the petitioners. This suggestion was made by Giri on the ground that, immediately after the exams concluded, when the candidates were asked to raise concerns about problems faced, very few of them came forward. However, the number of complaints shot up as soon as the Court ordered for a redressal forum to be set up.

After a long discussion, Justice Rao said,

“What we want is for the Committee to consider all genuine cases.”

Giri informed the Court that if all complaints were to be looked into, it would be a lengthy affair. He said,

“If the Committee has to go into the complaints in the same manner as it did for the first phase, then it will take two-three weeks’ time.”

Justice Rao then asked the respondents for suggestions about what can be done if a candidate hasn’t had a fair chance.

Giri apprised the Court of the mechanism available with the organising committee, which goes into great detail about the exam activity of each student. This is the same mechanism which is used to compile audit reports as well.

He further submitted that an answer key and a downloadable answer sheet of each candidate was made available by the organising institute and therefore each student knows approximately how much they are expected to score in the exam. Based on this, Giri suggested that a formula could be devised to compensate those candidates who are at a risk of being adversely affected on account of technical glitches.

The basis of this suggestion is that if a student is not at a striking distance from the least cut off marks, she can be compensated adequately to give her a fair chance. For students who are at a striking distance from the estimate cut off marks and even the compensation would not bring them close enough to the cut off marks, the exercise of compensation will result in futility.

Salman Khurshid, appearing for one of the petitioners, highlighted another concern regarding cheating, reported from centres in Mumbai.

“A lot of students were upset and distressed and the concentration required to write an exam like this was lost. The general trend of the exam was such.”

Zoheb Hossain, counsel for another set of petitioners, told the Court that a few students gained unfair advantage of extra time on account of technical glitches. He said that some students were able to see the entire question paper before their systems froze and were able to attempt the papers later with an unfair advantage.

“If even one undeserving candidate gets through, the entire process is vitiated”, he told the Court.

Harvinder Chowdhury, counsel for another petitioner in this matter, argued that the interest of the students is not taken care of. Complaining of lost time, delay in commencement of the exam and problem in accessing the question paper faced by several students, Chowdhury told the Court that conduct of the exam was not up to the mark.

“The candidates were not able to access the question paper, the overall environment of the exam was poor, invigilators in exam halls were not technology savvy and often suggested waiting when there were complaints of system hanging. The application of the mind wasn’t there”, she pointed out.

The Court, however, did not deem it fit to stay the publication of the results, scheduled to be announced tomorrow.

After hearing all the parties, the Court ordered for the results to be declared as per the schedule and for the grievance redressal forum to submit a report after looking into all genuine complaints by June 6, when the matter will be heard again.

The Court said that complaints of those students who suffered due to technical glitches will be looked into the by the Grievance Redressal Committee constituted by NUALS. This would effectively mean that the likelihood of a re-examination has been ruled out.

Read the order below.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news