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[Breaking] Not inclined to entertain since cause of action did not arise in the State: MP HC allows withdrawal of plea challenging NLAT

In view of concerns regarding the territorial jurisdiction of the Madhya Pradesh High Court to entertain the plea, the Court has allowed the petitioner to withdraw the plea with liberty to approach the appropriate court.

Meera Emmanuel

The plea before the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the challenging NLSIU’s decision to conduct NLAT in lieu of CLAT for admissions to its law programmes this year has been withdrawn after the High Court today expressed reservations regarding territorial jurisdiction.

The plea had been moved by a CLAT aspirant through Advocate Somit Raizada.

When the Bench of Justices Sanjay Yadav and BK Shrivastava took up the plea this morning, it was informed that the Jharkhand High Court had reserved orders on a similar plea and that the Supreme Court is due to hear another plea today.

Appearing for the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya therefore urged the Court to take up the matter at the end of the list, so that the Court may be apprised of the developments in the cases before the other Courts. Poovayya was assisted by Advocates Siddharth R Gupta and Aditya N.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, however, pointed out that there are already preliminary office objections recorded over the maintainability of the petition, particularly on whether the High Court has the territorial jurisdiction to take up the plea.

The Court asked the petitioner's counsel,

"You want to pursue or withdraw and take a chance before Karnataka High Court?"

Whereas the petitioner made submissions to persuade the Court that the plea may be entertained before the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Bench was not convinced.

The Court also cited the forum non conveniens principle, in this respect. It further disagreed with the petitioner's submission that the High Court may have wider jurisdiction than the Supreme Court.

"You can withdraw. We will permit you to withdraw and wait for the outcome", the Court remarked.

The Bench expressed that it is not inclined to take up the plea, since the cause of action did not arise in Madhya Pradesh.

Therefore, it has allowed the petitioner to withdraw the plea and granted liberty to approach the appropriate court over the matter.

The Court also declined to accede to a request made by the petitioner to keep the matter pending until the Supreme Court passes orders in the matter today.

To this request, the Bench responded,

"No, we don't want to keep it pending.... Why should be keep it pending when the issue is alive before Supreme Court?"

A plea moved over the issue by a former NLSIU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Venkata Rao and an aggrieved parent is due to be heard by a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court today.

In the meanwhile, the plea before Jharkhand High Court challenging the NLAT was dismissed this morning on concerns of territorial jurisdiction while citing that the case has pan-India ramifications.

The NLAT is scheduled to be conducted in three time slots tomorrow.

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