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CLAT VCs to NLS: Reconsider Claxit or get booted out • NLS responds: NLAT will go smoothly [UPDATE-1]

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) consortium has concluded its emergency meeting today following NLSIU Bangalore’s surprise exit from the admissions test to conduct its own, and has decided to pressure NLSIU to come back into the fold.

NLSIU has quasi-responded with a press release, showing little signs of giving in to that plea.

According to a press release from the consortium:

An emergency meeting of the Governing Body was held today under the Chairmanship of Prof. V. Vijaykumar, Vice-Chancellor, NLIU, Bhopal. All the members were present including the Vice-Chancellor of NLSIU, Bangalore.

After detailed deliberations, the Governing Body unanimously resolved to request the NLSIU, Bangalore to reconsider its decision of holding its own independent test for this year’s admission to BA.LL.B and LL.M. The Governing Body resolved that the decision is in violation of Rule 15.3.3. of Consortium Bye-laws as all members of the Consortium are duty-bound to admit students only through CLAT.

The Governing Body further resolved that in case NLSIU sticks to its decision, NLSIU cannot remain associated with the CLAT-2020 in any manner and all financial and administrative decisions will have to be taken by Prof. Balraj Chauhan, CLAT-2020 Convener and the Secretariat of Consortium may be shifted out of NLSIU.

Prof. Balraj Chauhan Convener – CLAT 2020

We have reached out to NLS vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy for comment.

NLS responds, looks ahead

Update 17:27: NLSIU has reacted with a press release of its own about the NLAT (National Law Aptitude Test), noting that it was “compelled by the current circumstances to conduct its own” test at a nominal rate (of between Rs 125 to Rs 150).

In particular, repeated delays of the CLAT would “deprive law students of the opportunity to pursue their studies this year at India’s premier law university”.

The NLAT would be an online exam taken by candidates at home, using “a combination of technological, Artificial Intelligence-based proctoring, as well as human proctoring”. That is very much what Symbiosis and LSAT-India had done, though, much as NLS stated above, this one will be for what is still widely perceived by candidates as India’s top law school, so competition and the temptation to cheat may be much more intense and heightened.

Clearly looking forward (rather than back towards the CLAT, though at least one writ petition has already been filed in a high court this morning that could change those best laid plans), NLS noted in its statement: “We assure NLAT 2020 candidates that NLSIU shall take all possible measures to ensure a smooth test experience.”

Read full NLS press release here.

Rationale: Slow CLAT decision-making

Krishnaswamy told Bar & Bench in an interview just now about his decision and conflict with the other CLAT universities:

I don’t see it as a contest at all. Frankly, we might have been the first to stick our heads out, but there are other universities which are hard-placed. We are not the only university that feels this way. We will engage with the Consortium in a very robust and constructive way. We think that many of these things can be resolved quite easily.

Discussions with the Consortium are ongoing. That process will hopefully yield some positive result.

He also noted that the consortium process had been “a little unwieldy” without any results the the dicussion, and his decision to exit was not a a “knee-jerk decision”, but one based on the “crisis” - in part due to NLS having a trimester system - and not being able to finish admissions by September.

Krishnaswamy also told Bar & Bench:

All the private universities have gone ahead and held their entrance exams. They have already started taking fees. The national law schools have been hampered by the CLAT 2020 process. We had proposed a number of options to the Consortium, but unfortunately, none of them were accepted. Had that been the case, it would have been a smoother process and we would have completed admissions by now.

We have no bone to pick with anyone. Ultimately, it is an ecosystem that we all benefit from, collectively. But we have to move forward, we can’t be stuck in the way that we have been for the last two-three months.

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