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NLAT affidavits and counters: Summary of the pro and con arguments before tomorrow’s SC hearing

Ahead of tomorrow’s second Supreme Court hearing about the future of NLSIU Bangalore’s National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT), Bar & Bench and LiveLaw (of the petitioners' case, and of the NLSIU case) have published summaries of the affidavits filed by the parties.

Bar & Bench, in particular, has carried a comprehensive summary of the two affidavits filed by NLSIU Bangalore vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy and registrar Prof Sarasu Thomas, as well as those filed by ex-NLSIU VC Prof Venkata Rao and a candidate’s parent, as well as the NLU Consortium.

LiveLaw has published more detailed excerpts of each of the affidavits.

It is worth reading in full, but we have excerpted a few highlights. Bar & Bench reported:

The rejoinder filed by the petitioners asserts that NLSIU has 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, they add.

The NLU Consortium’s affidavit contends that the cavalier attitude with which NLSIU has conducted the examination, without any regard for collective decision making, and jeopardising the lives of thousands of students, all while knowing that the NLAT examination was impossible to conduct, demonstrates its malafide conduct.

NLS VC contentions

Krishnaswamy’s affidavit and counter-affidavit had asked for dismissal of the writ with “exemplary costs”, and maintained that:

  • the petitioners lacked standing for the petition. According to LiveLaw:

...it is neither averred that the child of the Petitioner No.1 is a minor, nor is any material or evidence depicting his I her minor status placed on record. As such, the Petitioner No.1 has no right to move the Petition on behalf of his child. Pertinently, no student has, himself or herself, filed any proceedings calling NLAT 2020 in question before this Hon’ble Court

  • conducting the NLAT was the only way to avoid a so-called “zero year” - i.e., a year in which no students could be taught properly.
  • NLS had the blessing from its executive council (EC) to conduct the NLAT (in case the CLAT process had been further postponed).
  • The bylaws of the consortium, which NLS was a member of, did not prevent NLS from conducting its own test, and in any case would be a dispute between NLS and the consortium rather than part of the writ. There was also no conflict of interest between Krishnaswamy’s (former) role in the consortium and the decision to launch the NLAT, having not derived any personal benefit and having managed to segregate his two roles properly.
  • it would be against justice and equity to stop NLS from completing its NLAT process.
  • that Krishnaswamy personally should not be a party to the writ.
  • he had not consented to the decision to postpone the CLAT to 28 September.
  • Supreme Court Justice UU Lalit, who headed NLS’ executive council, had agreed to conduct the NLAT.

Consortium and petitioners' affidavits dc:The main allegations raised by the petitioners and consortium in their affidavit and counter-affidavit included that:

  • the exam had not been publicised widely enough, without advertisements in newspapers or to reach out to every candidate registered for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), effectively depriving 40,000 candidates of a chance to take the exam.
  • at 35, there were not enough physical test centres, including in West Bengal and the North East of India, as well as outside of metro cities.
  • the mock exams and final exams were marred by technical errors and that insufficiently locked-down proctoring software raised concerns of mass cheating and leak of the paper in Monday’s re-exam, while it was still going on. In particular, since the NLAT had not insisted on the installation of a so-called “Safe Assessment Browser (SAB) Tool” on candidates’ computers (which we had first revealed and was later confirmed by NLSIU in its online FAQs), it was not possible for the NLAT to follow effective proctoring protocols.
  • communication with candidates happened primarily via social media channels and updating its FAQs, which both had limited reach.

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