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The Court said that the plea was misplaced and without merit.
The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition seeking conduct of this year's Common Law Admission Test (CLAT 2020) as a home-based online examination on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. (V Govinda Ramanan v. Consortium of National Law Universities)
The judgment was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath in the petition preferred by one CLAT aspirant, V Govinda Ramanan (Petitioner).
The Petitioner was a law graduate who wished to pursue his LL.M.
It was his concern that since he suffered from asthma and thus fell under the vulnerable category of individuals, he ought not to be made to appear for a centre-based examination amid the pandemic.
The Petitioner argued that the centre-based test was in violation of his ‘Right to Life’ and ‘Right to Health’ guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
It was contended that the movements of the individuals under the risk category, i.e. elderly, children and other individuals who are suffering from ailments continued to be restricted by the Central Government.
The Petitioner thus prayed for an appropriate direction to quash the CLAT- 2020 examination notification in so far as it mandated him to physically go to the examination centre and give the exam.
In response to the petition, the Consortium of National Law Universities submitted that a home-based online test for around 78,000 students was not possible as it would be completely compromised and may even be manipulated by the participants or coaching centres.
The Consortium informed the Court that similar petitions against centre-based examinations had been rejected by the Supreme Court for various other entrance tests, including CLAT-2020.
It was further submitted that the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, had on July 6, 2020 issued instructions permitting the conduct of examinations at physical test centres for final term examinations for Universities, IIT-JEE, NEET, CLAT etc.
The Consortium assured the Court that CLAT 2020 would be conducted in the safest manner possible and that for places which have restriction on movement, the admit/identity cards issued to the candidates would be treated as a pass for the movement of students.
It was also submitted that a home-based online test would severely harm those candidates from the backward areas/sections who lack technological resources.
In view of the submissions made by the parties, the Court opined that the possibility of the test being compromised or manipulated by the participants/coaching centers could not be ruled out.
"That apart, the problem of accessibility for 78,000 candidates to appropriate technology, internet connection, laptop or desktop computer itself would be doubtful.", the Court added.
The Court also clarified that Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines asking persons with co-morbidities to stay at home was "at best an advisory".
Ultimately, in view of the above, along with exemption granted to educational institutions for holding examinations and the Supreme Court order dismissing a similar prayer, the Court held,
The petition was accordingly dismissed.
Advocates Yudhvir Singh Chauhan, Vishal Dabas appeared for the Petitioner.
The Consortium was represented by Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan and Advocate Vinayak Mehrotra.
Read the Order: