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Revealed: 8-page MOU that CLAT tried to hide under RTI but that HNLU disclosed 3 years ago

Top secret document revealed by HNLU 3 years ago
Top secret document revealed by HNLU 3 years ago

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) founding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was publicly disclosed by HNLU Raipur in 2012, three years before CLAT 2015 convenor RMLNLU Lucknow claimed exemption under Right to Information (RTI)for the same MoU.

The MoU dated 23 November 2007, under which India’s first seven national law universities (NLU) had agreed for the first time to admit students not through their separate entrance tests but through the CLAT, was requested together win the 2014 MOU by the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) Intiative via a Right to Information (RTI) request.

RMLNLU then claimed confidentiality exemptions under the RTI Act for the 2007 and 2014 MoUs and rejected the RTI, as reported on Monday.

RMLNLU appeared to rely on Section 8(e) of the RTI Act that: “notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information”.

However, in 2012 DSNLU Vishakhapatnam student Ayush Jaiswal had filed an RTI for the 2007 MoU with then CLAT convenor HNLU Raipur which had provided the MoU’s copy to Jaiswal in response.

The full eight-page MOU is embedded below.

Core committee duties

The MoU provided that beginning with NLSIU Bangalore in 2008, the seven signatories will conduct the CLAT each year in rotation in order of their year of incorporation and that the vice chancellors (VC) of the seven signatories will form a CLAT core committee to:

  1. Distribute CLAT’s annual income and expenses
  2. Decide the date, format and syllabus for CLAT each year
  3. Prescribe qualifying marks for different categories of candidates
  4. Demarcate geographical boundaries among the participating universities for the purpose of logistics and other arrangements for CLAT
  5. Approve the quantum of honoraria to be paid for various CLAT activities
  6. Prepare a report on behalf of the outgoing convenor for the incoming convenor
  7. Prescribe statistical reports on the various aspects of CLAT
  8. Oversee the functioning of the committee

Convenor / implementation committee duties

It also provided that each VC will nominate a person to be on a CLAT implementation committee which will implement all aspects of conducting CLAT and will be chaired by the CLAT convenor. The implementation committee will also:

  1. Frame the agenda of each core committee meeting
  2. Implement non-confidential operations such as work on advertisements and press releases, CLAT brochure, sale of application forms and other documents, fixing test centres, liaisoning with participating institutions for geographical distribution of logistics, elimination of duplicate applications, admit cards, test centre guidelines and instructions, result declaration, counselling related work, releasing results to non CLAT law schools, maintenance of accounts.
  3. Implement confidential operations such as preparing guidelines for paper setters, selecting paper setters, randomising choice of paper setters and deciding time and place for paper setting exercise, ensuring confidentiality and secrecy for paper setting, delivering sealed envelopes of papers to committee chair, selecting secure printing press and dealing with it, coding of OMR sheets, answer books and question papers, freezing solutions, evaluation “once or double as the case may be”, tabulating results and preparing merit list.

The core committee would also decide the rate of selling the CLAT application form each year starting with Rs 2000 per form in 2008.

50 per cent of the application form proceeds would go the convenor and the remaining 50 per cent will be shared equally between law schools on the rest of the core committee, as reported last month in Legally India and Mint.

The MoU does not appear to spell out whether which institution will bear the CLAT’s costs, apparently leaving it up to the core committee to decide.

For the release of CLAT score to non CLAT universities a fee of Rs 1,000 was to be levied in 2008 and the proceeds divided equally between the law schools on the entire core committee.

The 2007 MoU did not specify whether CLAT universities had the power to draw up any criteria to admit newer NLUs to CLAT, however RMLNLU VC Prof Gurdip Singh told Legally India last year that the new MoU entered into between 14 NLUs then provided for such a criteria.

Under the new criteria DSNLU was admitted to CLAT.

The MoU’s provisions point out that through the core committee and the implementation committee all participating law schools are equally involved in the conduct of the CLAT each year even though the responsibility for the conduct devolves on the convenor for any given year.

Different procedure this year

VCs Legally India spoke to last month about this year’s CLAT debacle provided a different picture.

HNLU Raipur VC Prof Sukh Pal Singh commented: “Unlike previous years the core committee meeting was not held this year before the declaration of the result. So we are in the same situation as you. We have not been given the report of the expert committee and we have not met for us to comment on anything. Like you we can also only clarify from the convenor."

Singh said that the core committee has met only once for CLAT 2015 and that was in October 2014.

He added: "We are not interested right now in a core committee meeting. We just want that whatever are the problems they should be resolved and whatever the decision, it should be communicated to everyone transparently."

NLUJAA Guwahati VC Prof Vijender Kumar said last month: “There are supposed to be quite a few [errors remaining in the paper]. The number is supposed to be quite big.

“As a member of the core committee I don’t oppose them but I am of the strong view that there should be a centralized institution for the core issues of CLAT. Many core issues can be left open to core committee members. Before publishing of the result had there been a meeting of all the VCs and the matter discussed thoroughly [..].

“Salary of permanent staff can be paid from revenues generated from CLAT.

“I have also requested the convenor for a meeting of the core committee for a discussion so that the future of the students is not put at stake. There should be some consensus among [the core committee].”

Photo by BP22Heber

2007 CLAT MOU (PDF download)

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