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Surprising no-one, 13 June 2021 CLAT postponed indefinitely: So what options are there?

Notification by CLAT (via CLAT website)
Notification by CLAT (via CLAT website)

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) consortium met today and has decided to indefinitely postpone the date for now.

The CLAT consortium released a notification on the official website stating:

CLAT 2021 scheduled to be held on June 13, 2021 stands postponed. New date of the test will be notified in due course.

The deadline for online applications has been postponed until 15 June.

Delays: Understandable

The CLAT consortium had vowed in April to give an update about the tentative 13 June 2021 date by early May, but in light of the continuing unpredictability of the pandemic it is not surprising that the deadline has been missed.

And with the raging second wave of the pandemic, which is tragically promising to continue ravaging different states in turn for some time yet, the decision is entirely understandable.

Even last year, when the Indian pandemic was far smaller than this year, the CLAT was forced to postpone the date of the exam was postponed many, many times and eventually and finally to 28 September 2020.

Taking that as a precedent, it seems rather sensible for the CLAT to avoid announcing another date now that will be subject to so many unknown unknowns and variables as to be almost impossible to keep.

Tough choices, none great, but few things are great right now

Of course, considering this year’s pandemic is so much worse than last year’s, the consortium will have some tough choices ahead.

And discussions are sure to include pondering about whether the only solution is to hold an online exam, despite the risks such as cheating and exclusion associated therewith.

And any decision will not be made easier by NLSIU Bangalore's unilateral and surprise attempt (and failure) to do an online admissions test last year.

Knowing how the consortium works, it is a near certainty that individual VCs will continue considering all options, including an online exam.

However, getting 22 national law school vice chancellors trying to agree on anything will be very hard, especially any radical technological solutions such as an online CLAT.

Longer postponement and sticking to an offline CLAT until the pandemic is somewhat under control therefore still seems the most conservative and likely option.

And while delaying the CLAT in 2020 had caused heavy disruptions to academic (and aspirant) schedules, most NLUs have made up for time by skipping some semester breaks and holding extra classes.

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