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Dear Sir,

This is to draw your kind attention towards the organizational flaws in CLAT 2015. It is matter of grave concern that an examination as prestigious as Common Law Admission Test has also not remain unaffected by the dirt which over a period of time has led to the maligning of image of the various competitive exams conducted across the country.

Please note the following serious problems in organization of the said exam;

1. Addition of new test cities without prior notice, with 1/3rd of them based in UP

In 2014, CLAT was conducted in various test centres spread across 21 cities.

But in 2015, as per an interview given by the Vice-Chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow (who is also the convener of CLAT 2015) to ‘Legally India’, 12 new test cities were to be added to CLAT 2015. Thus, as per the interview, CLAT 2015 was to be conducted in 33 test cities. An important observation which must be made here is that out of the 12 of these new additions 4 (Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gorakhpur) or 1/3rd were from the State of UP which hitherto used to have only 1 test city, namely Lucknow.

Finally, not 13 but 21 new test cities (taking the total to 42 test cities all over India) were added for conducting CLAT 2015. As high as 7 (1/3rd) new entrants were from the State of UP and it wasn’t disclosed that what guided the CLAT Committee in allotting so many test cities to UP. In all, out of 42 test cities, 8 were from UP while no other state had more than 2 test cities to its name. A state like Maharashtra had been allotted only one test city which is Mumbai.

Other aspect of this addition is that it being a surprise. Nowhere including the online application form was it mentioned that so many test cities would be conducting the test. It is not known that when did students got to know about these new test cities as no option was given to the students to change the test city.

This is a not a good practice and raises suspicions about the intention behind these opaque test city allocations.

2. Extension of the Registration Date

The date for registering for CLAT was extended without disclosing the rationale for the same. Initially, 31st March 2015 was the last date for registering for the exam but the same was extended 15th April, 2015 without any disclosure as to the rationale behind the same.

It is an invalid argument to say that it was done to give chance to prospective candidates who had missed the deadline because a candidate who aspires to appear for such tests is expected not to miss such crucial deadlines, more so, when the time made available for registration was more than 3 months (from 1.1.2015-31.3.2015).

Imagine a scenario wherein the UPSC extends deadline for registration for its various exams; will it not be a jolt to the seriousness attached to the examination?

Thus, there should be a policy which guides such extensions and it should not be the sole discretion of the organizing committee. Such extension without any rationale is suspicious.

 3. Previous year question papers;

1. The previous year question papers which were made available at an additional payment of Rs. 250/- should had been made available free of cost. When a price tag is put for everything, the exam looks more like a commercial venture and less like an educational activity.

2. The answer keys of the previous year question papers should also had been made available with the question papers. It is reasonable to presume that sending answer keys along with the respective question papers would not have required any extra effort as it must have already been available. As every year, preparation of answer key precedes the declaration of results, it was just a matter of putting all the answer keys together. But it was disappointing to see that it was not done.

Thus, I would like to know the rationale behind not giving the answer key along with the previous year question papers.

4. Centre Allocation

1. The candidates who had filled-in Delhi as exam centre were allotted exam centres in Ghaziabad, Noida, Sahibabad which were very far-off. In certain cases, candidates had to travel more than 50 km, spending 3-4 hours in travelling, to reach the exam centres.

2. The centres were located at isolated spots, for instance one of the centres which I personally visited, ‘Bhagwati Institute of Technological Sciences, Ghaziabad’ was located near a lonely and aloof spot. It was surrounded by agricultural fields and a canal.

3. When there was no intention to make Delhi a test centre, then it should not have been put in the list of centres as it amounts to making a mockery of the national capital.

4. Many exam centres were not well connected with public transport. This is also evident from the advisory issued by the CLAT committee which said that the candidates should visit their exam centres one day prior to the exam.

Thus, I would like to know the reasons underlying the allocation of such test centres. I would also like to know the details of all the test centres and their prior record of holding such exams.

Besides this, the CLAT Website mentions that the centres can be changed by the clat if insufficient number of candidates register for the exam for that particular centre.  

In the light of this, I would like to know that how many test centres were there in Delhi alone (not including the NCR region). I would also like to know that how many students registered from Delhi?

5. Question Paper and answer key not sent after exam

As per one of the FAQs on CLAT’s website the question paper and answer key were to be mailed to every candidate after the exam was over but the same was not done.

And after the exam, the CLAT’s website was modified to say that question paper and answer key were not be sent to the candidates. Again it arouses suspicion as it is one more anti-transparency step.

6. Result Declaration

1. While it has been the practice of the CLAT and a custom in case of competitive exams to give a consolidated merit list, the result of the CLAT was accessible through the online login account only. Moreover, as per point 6 of CLAT Calendar also, the result was to be declared in the form of a merit list but the CLAT has contradicted itself by not following it.

2. Moreover, National Law University, Delhi has also published its undergraduate result in the form of a consolidated merit list.

Thus, I would like to know the rationale behind not making everyone’s result accessible to everyone as in my opinion it is a departure from a well-established and transparent practice of publishing a consolidated merit list.

7. University/College Preferences

1. The form for taking college preference of students has not been made properly. There should be a separate form for Undergraduate and Post Graduate courses. The form for the post-graduate course should also contain a field of specialization besides the college preference. For Illustration- A student may want to pursue a business laws LLM. from NLSIU but not a Human rights LLM. These contingencies can’t be taken care of till the time a separate form is designed for the PG courses.

Thus, I would like to know the rationale behind making same preference form available to UG and PG students when the both the courses differ in their approach and content.

2. The declaration attached to the preference form says that the candidate is not above 20 years of age in case of general candidates and 22 years of age in case of SC/ST candidates. To my utter dismay, again the UG and PG distinction has totally skipped the mind of the CLAT Committee. No candidate seeking admission in a PG course through CLAT can fit within the age limit prescribed by the declaration. Moreover, there is no upper age limit for pursuing LLM.

Thus, I would like to know the reasons behind seeking the PG students also to sign the same declaration meant for UG students.

3. Mandatory giving of preferences for the universities which don’t provide for LL.M.

Three National Law Universities, namely, NLU Patna, NLU Visakhapatnam, NLU Tiruchirapalli don’t offer LLM courses but still the form was made in ignorance of this fact and the candidates were required to give preference even for these Universities.

8. SMS that university preferences can be edited though preferences were not be edited

After the announcement of the result on 20th May, 2015, the students were required to give university wise preferences from 21st May-25th May, 2015. On 24.05.2015, candidates got a SMS on their registered number stating that they can edit the preferences submitted earlier. But when one of the candidates tried to edit the preferences, it could not be edited.

It is still unclear that why was the message sent when the preferences could not be edited. 

9. Loose Interview by Vice-Chancellor, RML National Law University, Lucknow

The Vice Chancellor of the RML National Law University and the Convener of the CLAT 2015 in an interview to the ‘Legally India’ had said that the result of CLAT 2015, consisting of score and rank of the candidate, will be made available instantly after the exam which didn’t happen. He had also stated that based upon the rank and score, candidate would be required to give the preference for university on the same day as the day of the exam. 

But in reality, none of the said things happened, neither the result was declared instantly nor the preference were taken on the day of the exam.

I propose that the a person holding posts of such seniority moreover who is the Convener of the CLAT Committee for 2015 should be a bit more careful in making such statements.

10. Non-disclosure of the fact of pending writ proceedings on its website

There is a writ petition no. 32024/2015 pending against RMLNLU, Lucknow (the University organizing CLAT 2015) and others, the subject matter of which pertains to CLAT 2015. The respondents therein have been ordered to act in accordance with the CLAT Brochure which required them to publish the merit list.

Due to this, there has been a delay in publishing of the first indicative allotment list by the CLAT Committee. But unfortunately, the CLAT has not disclosed the fact of the pending writ proceeding on its website.

It is the responsibility of the CLAT Committee to keep the candidates abreast of all the latest developments through the medium of its website. Therefore, non-disclosure of such material facts on its website is again not a healthy practice.

11. Top scorers in CLAT PG to be given jobs in PSUs like ONGC, PGCIL and others.

This year the top scorers in CLAT were to be given jobs in some Public Sector Undertakings like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Dehradun, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), Gurgaon and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation India Limited (THDC), Rishikesh. This could also be a possible trigger which may have lead to the opaqueness which surrounded this year’s CLAT examination. Thus, the scores of all the top rankers in CLAT 2015 PG must also be made available.

12. Ridiculous note on the ‘CLAT Calender’ available on the website of the CLAT

The CLAT Calender on the website subjects the calendar to two conditions. One of the conditions is that if the date mentioned in the calendar turns out to be a public holiday, the date next to such date shall be deemed to be the actual date.

I want to know the need for such condition when the whole calendar and list of holidays is already known at the time of preparation of the CLAT calendar. This is in stark contrast to foreign universities who are confident enough to share their academic schedule not just for the current but even for the next 2- 3 academic years.

In the light of the above, I urge you to kindly give an earnest consideration to the matter, make an enquiry into the alleged irregularities and fix responsibility for the same otherwise it will amount to making of a joke of the fate of a large number of students which hangs in balance because of the lapses and irregularities pointed out above. 

Kamlesh Sharma

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