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The petition filed by Dr Rao and a parent of an aspiring student contends that the decision to conduct a separate test would convert NLSIU from being ‘an island of excellence’ to ‘an island of exclusion’.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru has moved a writ petition in the Supreme Court along with a parent, challenging NLSIU's move to conduct a separate law entrance exam this year, i.e. the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) in the wake of the delayed conduct of CLAT.
The petition has been filed by Advocate Sughosh Subramanyam and Vipin Nair, AoR, on behalf of an aggrieved parent and ex-vice chancellor, Prof Dr R Venkata Rao, claiming that the decision of the present Vice-Chancellor to conduct a separate test, would convert NLSIU from being ‘an island of excellence’ to ‘an island of exclusion’.
The four major points highlighted in the petition are that :
The Present NLSIU Vice-Chancellor did not have requisite consent from the academic council for conducting a separate examination;
The reasons for conducting a separate test are whimsical and baseless;
The technical requirement of having a laptop and 1 Mbps of internet speed for taking home proctored examination, is onerous, arbitrary, discriminatory and illegal;
That the legitimate expectations of the students stand breached.
The petitioners state:
NLSIU did not have any powers to develop an alternative admissions process (i.e. the NLAT). The Executive meeting in which it is stated that NLSIU was authorised to develop such an alternative proceess itself is illegal and without basis under its by laws.
Following the postponement of CLAT to September 28 after an August 28 meeting of the NLU Consortium, the NLSIU issued its September 3 notification to hold its own entrance exam i.e. the NLAT unilaterally and with obscene haste. The same notification had also intimated that NLSIU would not accept CLAT scores for admissions to its law programmes this year.
Online applications for the NLAT have to be made by September 10, whereas the process only started on September 3. This means that a mere window of seven days was given within which applications are to be made for the September 12 NLAT.
The technical requirements prescribed for the students to write the exam pose an undue burden on aspiring students. The examination is stipulated to be conducted online, through artificial intelligence-based and human proctoring, which requires constant streaming of audio and video data throughout the duration of the examination. The petitioners say that an onerous and unreasonable obligation has been upon aspiring students by requiring them to arrange for their own laptops, and in complete variance with the mode of the CLAT 2020 examination.
The sudden and capricious decision by NLSIU has not only thrown the aspirants of CLAT 2020 into a frenzy and in a state of fear and confusion, but it has also severely jeopardized NLSIU's position in the Consortium. Due to the whimsical conduct of NLSIU, the children are put to extreme pressure and mental stress.
NLSIU's actions have created an unprecedented uncertainty and has imposed an onerous burden and obligations upon thousands of aspirants, who are now uncertain about the future course of action.
NLSIU's actions constitute a serious and egregious violation of the fundamental rights of the various aspirant students and their parents, including the right against arbitrary actions of the State secured under Article 14 and the right to education and other concomitant rights under Article 21.
In view of these contentions, the Supreme Court has now been urged to:
quash the September 3 notification issued by NLSIU for the conduct of NLAT for NLSIU admissions this year;
quash NLSIU's notification regarding the technical requirements to writ NLAT;
direct NLSIU to accept students this year on the basis of CLAT scores.
The NLAT is slated to be held online on September 12. The Common Law Entrance Test (CLAT) has been scheduled for September 28.
A petition challenging the NLAT has also been moved before the Jharkhand High Court by five students.