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Supreme Court hears challenge to conduct of NLAT by NLSIU [LIVE UPDATES]

The matter is being heard by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court is hearing the petition filed challenging the decision of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru to conduct the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) as the basis for admissions to its law courses this year, instead of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).

The petition before the Supreme Court has been moved by a former Vice-Chancellor of NLSIU, Professor Venkata Rao and an aggrieved parent.

The petition has found support from the NLU Consortium which has also filed an affidavit over the matter.

The matter is being heard by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

R Subhash Reddy, Ashok bhushan, MR shah
R Subhash Reddy, Ashok bhushan, MR shah

Allied petitions were also moved before the Jharkhand High Court and the Madhya Pradesh High Court. However, both Court have declined to entertain the matter citing concerns of territorial jurisdiction.

This morning, the Jharkhand High Court dismissed the plea whereas the Madhya Pradesh High Court allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition.

Live updates from the hearing before the Supreme Court today feature on this page.

Hearing to begin shortly.

Senior Advocate Nidhesh Gupta for the petitioners: The decision of NLSIU to have a separate entrance is violative of the by-laws.

Senior Advocate Nidhesh Gupta: In so far as examinations are concerned, please look at powers and duties of academic council. Now, look at the memorandum of association signed by the Consortium of National Law Universities. It was agreed that there would be a common exam.

Senior Advocate Gupta takes the bench through the meaning of a member institute in the consortium to prove that NLSIU is a part of the consortium.

Bye-laws have a provision regarding how a common exam will govern admissions to PG and UG law courses across all the NLUs.

Senior Advocate Gupta: The decision of the consortium taken on August 10 that CLAT 2020 will be held on September 7. VC of NLSIU is a signatory.

On August 28, it was decided that CLAT 2020 would be postponed to September 28 due to floods and COVID-19.

Senior Advocate Gupta: They contend thereafter that they will hold a separate law entrance exam, NLAT 2020. They say they have a trimester system with 20 hours academic sessions each week and delayed exams will hamper the academic year. This is what NLSIU states for NLAT.

Justice Bhushan: The main question is can NLSIU hold a separate entrance, not the mode.

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appears for the petitioner.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appears for NLSIU.

Senior Advocate PS Narasimha appears for the consortium

Sankaranarayanan: The executive committee took a decision regarding CLAT. Only 1/3rd of the students have registered for NLAT.

Justice Bhushan: We are willing to issue notice

Senior Advocate Datar: All arrangements have been made, the exam is tomorrow.

Senior Advocate Narasimha: A press release by the university justifies the action. The consortium will collapse this way.

Justice Bhushan: Where is it that the exam is tomorrow? It is not on record.

Senior Advocate Datar: We have held two mock trials

Justice MR Shah: Question is, is this permissible? If you don't want to file a counter, we will consider your submission

Datar: NLSIU is the only one among all 22 NLUs which follow the trimester system. All others have two semester system.

August 12 and 18, there was emergency meeting where we said we cannot go beyond September to hold CLAT 2020. 

Datar: If admissions were not completed by September, then the institute would have lost 16 crores by not admitting the 120 UG students and other PG students. CLAT was postponed thrice. The postponement was not ruled out in the emergency executive council meeting.

Datar: It is only this one year. Next year we will go back to CLAT.

Justice Bhushan: You have already decided to hold the exams. Students are ready. Hold the exam, but no results can be announced till the pendency of the proceedings.

Justice Shah: NLAT result will be subjected to the court proceedings.

Senior Advocate P Narasimha: All the law universities used to hold their own exam. The court considered this issue, the consortium was set up. Justice SA Bobde had looked into this problem and sought to institutionalise this.

Justice Shah: We are passing some order today

Justice Shah: Mr Narasimha, reserve your energy for the next hearing

Sankaranarayanan: West Bengal and Bihar are under lockdown tomorrow, thus students cannot take the NLAT tomorrow

Datar: The exam is online

Senior Advocate Gupta: This kind of an exam at home will be a hogwash

Justice Bhushan dictates ORDER: By this petition, the petitioner has challenged the notice dated September 3 by NLSIU for admission to the 5 year BA LLB 5 years Hons program 2020-21.

ORDER being dictated: .... CLAT 2020 is postponed for September 28. it is contended that no separate law entrance can be held... Datar states the exam is tomorrow and all arrangements are made. Looking at importance of issues, respondents to file counter to the writ petition. Counter to be filed within 3 days.

Let all respondents file counter within 3 days. List this petition on September 17.

The bench modifies the next date of hearing to September 16.

BREAKING: Justice Ashok Bhushan dictates that NLAT may take place as scheduled for tomorrow.

No results shall be declared and no admissions to take place in NLSIU till the pendency of this plea.

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