NLSIU, Bangalore’s decision to take admissions through its separate exam, National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) was today termed invalid by the Supreme Court. NLAT scores will now not be considered for admissions to NLSIU for the session 2020-21 and instead students will be admitted based on Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2020 scores.
The Court has also ordered that the CLAT admission process shall be completed by mid-October.
The judgment was passed by a Bench of Justices comprising Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah. Supreme Court had earlier reserved its judgment in the instant matter wherein the constitutionality of NLAT was challenged by petitioners.
The Court had allowed the holding of NLAT on 12th September but opined that the results will be declared subject to the Court’s decision.
The order passed today reads,
“In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the considered opinion that Admission notification dated 03.09.2020 issued by respondent No.1 was not in accordance with law and deserves to be set aside.”
The Court has directed that CLAT 2020 be held on its scheduled date of September 28, in accordance with all the safety guidelines prescribed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In this regard, the court has directed that CLAT 2020 results shall be declared without any delay for the universities to start admission process at the earliest.
Further, the Court has directed that NLSIU be reinstated to the Secretariat of the NLU Consortium, and that its Vice-Chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy be given back his post of Secretary-Treasurer of the Consortium which was earlier taken away in light of NLSIU’s decision . The order reads,
“We are of the view that Status quo ante as on 05.09.2020 should be restored as early as possible i.e. by restoring the respondent No.2 as Secretary of the Consortium as well as restoring the Secretariat of the Consortium to NLSIU, Bengaluru. The governing body may take the decision keeping in mind that CLAT examination scheduled on 28.09.2020 be smoothly held. The respondent Nos.1 and 2 are also to cooperate with the holding of CLAT scheduled to be held on 28.09.2020.”
NLSIU’s decision to conduct a separate exam was opposed by NLSIU ex-Vice-Chancellor Prof Venkata Rao, along with an aspirant’s parent. It was prayed before the court that the technical requirements for writing NLAT made the exam “exclusionary” and could deny access to many aspirants. Questions were also raised on a very different pattern of examination in NLAT as compared to CLAT which put the aspirants preparing for the exam in a unfair position.
The petitioners had also filed a rejoinder before the Court, asserting that NLSIU miserably failed in conducting the NLAT and has made a large number of candidates suffer. The exam and its procedure lack transparency and cannot be termed “a success” by the widest stretch of imagination, the petitioners had averred in their rejoinder.
One pressing concern expressed by the petitioners was NLSIU’s unilateral decision to conduct a separate entrance exam considering that the university was still a part of the Consortium of NLUs which was bestowed with the primary task of conducting a common law entrance test.
On the other hand, NLSIU and its Vice-Chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy filed affidavits justifying the conduct of its exam, questioning the maintainability of the plea before the Supreme Court, and urging for the writ petition to be dismissed with exemplary costs.
NLSIU had argued that it was under extreme circumstances that the decision to hold NLAT was taken. It was claimed that University would have to face a zero year scenario if it were to take admissions through CLAT. It was said that the University is the only one in the Consortium to have a trimester system, a difficulty that was expressed to the Consortium. Despite this, NLSIU claimed, the Consortium decided to postpone the conduct of CLAT, which is scheduled for September 28.
Petitioners represented by Senior Advocates Nidhesh Gupta and Gopal Sankarnarayanan while the NLSIU and its VC were represented by Senior Advocates Arvind Datar and Sajan Poovayya respectively. The Consortium of NLUs was represented by Senior Advocate PS Narasimha
Read the judgment here: