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CLAT agrees to set up semi-permanent body in partial victory for petitioners

Will Cuttack manage what no others could?
Will Cuttack manage what no others could?

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) has moved one step closer to possibly an error-free conduct by establishing a seven-member permanent secretariat for conducting the exam from this year onward, as first reported by Live Law.

The secretariat is not going to replace the current system of revolving convenors for CLAT each year, but it will have at least three permanent members for all years.

NLSIU Bangalore, the seat of the newly established CLAT secretariat, is one of its three permanent executive members. Nalsar Hyderabad and NLIU Bhopal are the other two permanent members.

The other four members: CLAT convenor of the immediate year and the following year and two vice chancellors (VC) from national law universities (NLU) with experience of convening CLAT as nominated by the CLAT convenor of the immediate year.

Prof Shamnad Basheer who is in the Supreme Court since 2015, challenging the CLAT core committee and asking for a permanent body to conduct the exam said that he was yet to see the “nuts and bolts” of the new scheme and whether the secretariat could hire full-time staff and conduct the exam at a fair level of competence.

He told us that central government counsel had submitted in the hearing yesterday that the government wants the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the exam going forward and that he expects law schools to fight this in the next hearing on 30 October, and pray for the mandate to remain with them instead.

He commented on Linkedin: “My immediate thoughts: better to have CLAT permanently institutionalised within NLUs than to let it out to the National Testing Agency (NTA). At least for now. Since the NTA is still to be “tested”! It is a new body (allegedly autonomous) set up by the government for conducting entrance examinations such as JEE (engineering) and NEET (medical).”

Genesis

NLUs resolved to establish the secretariat yesterday at the third meeting of the national law schools consortium held at Nuals Kochi.

NLSIU VC Prof Venkat Rao was the president of this consortium until yesterday when he handed over the charge to Nalsar VC Faizan Mustafa. NLIU VC Prof Vijay Kumar became the new vice president.

The decision to replace the CLAT core committee (which currently conducts CLAT on a revolving basis with the mandate to convene the exam passing on from older to newer NLUs in chronological order) with the secretariat was taken through a unanimous resolution of the core committee after Mustafa took over the consortium as president.

The consortium will now meet on 17 October to finalise the conduct of the CLAT 2019, for which NLUO VC Prof Srikrishna Deva Rao will be the convenor.

CLAT mentor Rajneesh Singh commented: “CLAT has taken the best ever independent decision (without being forced to). This is a matter of celebration.”

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