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The Supreme Court today directed that a copy of the petition challenging the Common Law Admission Test 2018 (CLAT), be served on National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) and Central government.
The petition filed by six CLAT candidates, was heard by a Bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha. The petitioners were represented by Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid.
The Court besides ordering that an advance copy be served on NUALS, Central government and the Core Committee of CLAT, also sought details of orders passed in this regard by six High Courts in similar cases.
The case will now be heard tomorrow.
CLAT 2018 was conducted by NUALS on May 13 with the aid and assistance of a private company, M/s Sify Technologies Ltd.
The petitioners have sought quashing of the same and have prayed for holding fresh examination.
It is their case that manner in which the examination was held “has jeopardized the future of thousands of students who appeared for this examination”.
The petitioners have elucidated in great detail, the difficulties faced by them and other candidates who appeared for the exam earlier this month.
It is their contention that the prerequisites of proper electronic and online infrastructure were not made available.
They have submitted students across various States faced serious problems in almost 200 Online examination centres. The problems included power cuts, failure of log-in system, slow biometric verification, blank screens, substantial loss of time in system log-ins, frequent resetting of computer systems, hanging of computer systems, server shutdown and difficulties in moving from one question to another.
These difficulties led to significant loss of time (averaging about 5-30 minutes from student to student) which has totally vitiated the very essence of an online competitive exam of 120 minutes wherein a student is expected to answer 200 questions, the petition states.
It is the petitioners’ case that in such a highly competitive and rigorous examination, loss of time essentially means fait accompli for the aspirations of any student. The ranking of a student can slip by thousand or more ranks by a simple difference of one or two incorrect answers/ un-attempted questions. This, the petitioners state, is gross violation of fundamental rights of students under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
In addition to the technical problems, the petitioners have also raised other issues such as extremely poor infrastructure at examination centres, lack of proper guidance from staff recruited by the examination centers and several instances of unfair conduct of examination.
“For instance, at an examination center as Hissar, Haryana few students were seen attempting the examination till 7:00 PM whereas the exam was expected to conclude at 5:00 PM itself. In essence, it is submitted that Petitioners and thousands of other similarly situated students were compelled to take the examination under grossly unfair condition seriously jeopardizing their result…”
The petition also refers to the statement made by Vice Chancellor of NUALS Kochi, Rose Varghese that only 1.5 per cent of the candidates appearing for the exam faced difficulties. However, the case made by the petitioners is that 1.5 percent roughly comes to 850 candidates and this figure makes for a solid ground to quash the exam. The petition states,
“[T]he errors and omissions were deliberate and negligent, and a clear attempt is made by Respondent No. 3 [NUALS, Kochi] to underplay the magnitude of problems that have been caused in conducting the examinations.”
Alleging inaction on the part of NUALS, Kochi which is the organizing University as well as the Union of India, the petition calls it violative of the rights of the candidates under Articles 14 and 21 hitting “at the very basis of the principles of accountability, fair play and transparency”.
Besides seeking quashing of the exam and holding fresh exam, the petitioners have also prayed for stay of publication of final result cum merit list till the disposal of the petition.
This is not the first petition challenging CLAT 2018. A number of petitions were also filed before various High Courts last week raising concerns over the conduct of CLAT 2018.
Read the petition below.
Read the order below.