A CLAT aspirant has challenged the decision of the National Law School of India to hold a separate entrance exam. It is alleged that the impugned notification violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The Consortium of National Law Universities conducts the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) every year for aspiring law students. A total of 22 National Law Universities accept the CLAT scores for the admission procedure. Including, one of the top-notch institutions National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
Owing to the pandemic, the authorities had to postpone the exam dates several times beginning from June 2020. With the relaxation of the lockdown guidelines, the Consortium is set to conduct a centre-based test on September 28, 2020. The applications for the same were closed on August 15, 2020.
However, on September 03, 2020, the National Law School of India, Bangalore announced that it would conduct its own home-based online entrance exam on September 12, 2020. The scores shall be considered for undergraduate and post-graduate courses offered by the institute.
Therefore, the petitioner has challenged the institution’s notification to be illegal, arbitrary and whimsical.
Contents of the Plea
The petitioner has the locus standi as an aggrieved party under Article 226 of the Constitution. The plea has been filed at the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The plea states that the impugned notification is in violation of Clauses 15.3.3. and 15.7 of the Bye-laws of the Consortium of NLUs. The clause mandates the member-institute to admit the CLAT score and ensure meritorious admissions. Moreover, the later clause pertains to the procedure for the voluntary withdrawal of the member institution.
Further, the decision was made after the aspirants filed their applications for CLAT 2020. This violates the principle of promissory estoppel as the institute has breached the legal relationship arising out of the unequivocal promise. In addition, NLSIU is a government-funded statutory institution. Therefore, creating a class by having a differential set of procedure shall be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. It shall infringe the petitioner’s fundamental right to take an examination in a just and fair manner.
The plea also raises concerns for the technical requirements in a home-based test. The aspirants shall require supporting devices, operating systems, bandwidth speed of 1 MBPS, camera resolution and microphones among several other things. The requirements are arbitrary and against the doctrine of reasonableness. Moreover, aspirants residing in rural and suburban areas shall face hardships to fulfil the requirements. Hence, they shall be deprived of an equal opportunity to pursue law in one of the best law schools of the country.
Prayer for relief
The petition seeks Madhya Pradesh High Court’s directions to quash the impugned notification and declare it to be illegal and arbitrary. The NLSIU may also be directed to follow the procedure established by the Consortium of National Law Universities. Further, the Court may also grant an ad-interim stay on the operation of the notification until the Court resolves the matter.
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