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NTA okay with conducting CLAT if court needs it to but BCI unwilling to give up chase for CLAT prize

Everyone wants a piece of CLAT, it seems...
Everyone wants a piece of CLAT, it seems...

The National Testing Agency (NTA) is open to take on the mandate for conducting the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) from 2019 onward, while the Bar Council of India (BCI) has re-asserted that it is the only body suitable to conduct the CLAT going forward.

Both the BCI and the NTA filed affidavits at different times last week in Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) founder Shamnad Basheer’s challenge to the CLAT in the Supreme Court, stating that they were both ready to take on the role of CLAT’s organising body.

The NTA’s affidavit was in response to the Supreme Court posing it the question that whether it was willing to conduct the CLAT. The NTA, which presently is the nodal agency for exams such as the JEE (main), the NEET-UG, CMAT and GPAT, was asked about its willingness for CLAT during the SC hearing in the NEET writ. It responded by filing an affidavit in Basheer’s writ, stating:

NTA is willing to take up the responsibility for conducting the CLAT examination from academic session 2019-2020 onwards, if desired by this hon’ble court.

The BCI’s affidavit was in addition to the one it had filed earlier in Basheer’s writ, making similar arguments as before to win the mandate to be CLAT’s sole organising body. The BCI asked for permission of the court to set up a “body of experts” to conduct and the CLAT and also stated:

the answering respondent has been successfully conducting the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) under the orders passed by this hon’ble court and has appointed committee of experts to conduct the same since year 2011, there has been no complaint from any corner with regard to fairness or impartiality of these exams

That’s not entirely true, of course. The BCI’s bar exam has been repeatedly delayed and marred by bad planning (though admittedly less than the screw-ups orchestrated by the CLAT NLUs). The BCI had also awarded the lucrative AIBE contract to an inexperienced contractor under questionable circumstances.

Basheer had challenged the current system of rotational conduct of the exam where each year a different national law university (NLU) in chronological order of establishment conducts the exam. His challenge, being heard in the Supreme Court since 2015, asks for a permanent CLAT secretariat.

Basheer is supportive of the semi-permanent CLAT secretariat which was constituted this month, under which the mandate to conduct the exam remains with the NLUs and the rotational system will continue. Either the NTA or the BCI are not suited to conduct the exam, in his opinion.

NTA affidavit (PDF)

BCI affidavit (PDF)

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