Pleas against CLAT: SC asks students to complain to panel set up by NUALS

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that students, who had appeared in the May 13 Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and complained about several glitches, could make their representation online to a two-member panel set up by the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) till 7 pm of May 27.

A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra was informed by the counsel appearing for the NUALS that they have constituted a two-member committee, to be headed by retired Kerala High Court judge Justice M R Hariharan Nair, which would look into complaints received by students who had appeared in the exam.

The apex court said students can make their representation online till 7 pm of May 27 to the panel which after due analysis of complaints would take appropriate decision on a case-to-case basis.

The bench which was informed by the NUALS that results of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018 examination will be declared on May 31, directed that status report of the complaints and redressal be placed before it on May 30.

The bench said the representation by students would be sent on a dedicated email id which would be set up by the NUALS within two hours today.

The court was hearing the pleas filed by six candidates who appeared for the CLAT, seeking a direction to quash the examination and hold it afresh.

The pleas alleged that the candidates faced several technical problems during on-line test, besides poor infrastructure at examination centres and lack of proper guidance from staffers. They have also sought an interim stay on the publication of final result till the decision on their plea.

The apex court had yesterday asked the NUALS to come up with a “wholesome solution” to the complaints of inconsistencies in the May 13 CLAT for admission in prestigious national law schools.

NUALS, with the aid of private firm M/s Sify Technologies Ltd, had conducted CLAT 2018 on May 13 for admissions in undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in law offered at premier law schools, the results of which are expected to be declared on May 31.

Several pleas have been filed in high courts and in the apex court seeking quashing of the CLAT and re-test alleging inconsistencies during the test.

A vacation bench had yesterday restrained all the high courts from entertaining any fresh plea and hearing the pending ones on the issue.

The bench had then asked NUALS to apprise it about a grievance redressal mechanism, if any, to deal with the 251 complaints by several candidates against the CLAT-2018 and said there has to be a system in place to look into them.

The pleas have also alleged problems during the test included power cuts, failure of log-in system, slow biometric verification, blank screens, substantial loss of time in system log-ins, frequent resetting of computer systems, hanging of computer systems, server shutdown and difficulties in moving from one question to another.

These technical issues had resulted in significant loss of crucial time as a candidate was expected to solve 200 questions in two hours, they said.

The ranking of a candidate can slip by 1,000 or more ranks by a simple difference of one or two incorrect answers or un-attempted questions and it was a gross violation of fundamental rights of equality and right to life under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, the candidates said in their petitions.

They also said that the high courts of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Bombay, Punjab and Haryana and Rajasthan, both the Jaipur and Jodhpur benches, have been hearing the pleas challenging the CLAT 2018 examination and notices have been issued in some of these matters.

The Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan High Court had on May 21 issued notice on the plea challenging CLAT 2018 examination and said if the results were declared before May 29, it shall be subject to the outcome of the petition pending before it.

Similarly, the Delhi High Court had on May 22 sought responses from the Centre and the Bar Council of India (BCI) on a plea filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and two law students challenging the “inconsistently and negligently” conducted CLAT 2018 examination.

Several pleas have been filed challenging the CLAT 2018 examination alleging mismanagement and incompetency of the national law universities in conducting the test on a rotational basis.

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