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In a press release issued by NLSIU post the Supreme Court declaring NLAT 2020 to be null and void, the University has affirmed that it will implement the judgment and orders of the Court in letter and spirit. The University reaffirmed that:

  • It will admit students on the basis of CLAT 2020 and not NLAT 2020 for the Academic Year 2020-21.
  • It has begun working with vendors to initiate refunds to all NLAT aspirants. Students may expect refunds after a deduction of Rs 75 as application processing charges in the next 9-14 days.

The faculty of NLSIU in a meeting resolved to do everything possible to respect the founding commitment to a trimester based academic calendar and maintain the highest rigour and standards that NLSIU is known for.The University thanked all students and parents for their patience and support throughout September. The press release issued by NLSIU can be read here.

Read the full Press Release here

Read the detailed report on the Supreme Court judgment quashing NLAT here

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has quashed the NLAT entrance exam conducted by NLSIU, Bengaluru on September 12, 2020 and has directed the admission of students in all National Law Universities through CLAT -2020.

BACKGROUND

In the notification dated 03.09.2020, NLSIU had stated that the decision was taken due to the unforeseen difficulties and delays in the conduct of CLAT 2020. As NLSIU follows a trimester system it was uniquely disadvantaged as every academic year is made up of three terms of 90 days duration. Moreover, each term must accommodate 60 hours of classroom instruction in each course and adequately provide for examination and evaluation processes. If it were unable to complete admissions by the end of September 2020 it would inevitably result in a ‘Zero Year’ with no admission. Read more

The bench had, on 11.09.2020, refused to stay the conduct of NLAT by NLSIU Bengaluru which is scheduled to be held a day later but had directed that “neither the result shall be declared nor any admission be made consequent thereto.” Read more

Allegedly, in examination held on 12.09.2020 and 14.09.2020 any malpractices were adopted. On the allegation that the paper was leaked on 14.09.2020, NLSIU had issued a statement claiming that allegation is of downloading of the papers in the last 15 minutes of the examination on 14.09.2020, which has not in any way affected integrity of examination.

WHETHER IT WAS NECESSARY TO OBTAIN ACADEMIC COUNCIL’s RECOMMENDATION BEFORE ISSUING NOTIFICATION DATED 03.09.2020?

There can be no dispute that Executive Council is the Chief Executive Body of NLSIU and the administration, management and control of NLSIU is vested in the Executive Council and in the administration, right to admit the students is included but when the Act, 1986 empower the Academic Council to take decision regarding admission of the students in LL.B. Course and with regard to mode and manner of conducting the admission test, it was obligatory for the Vice-Chancellor to have obtained the recommendations of the Academic Council.

When the Academic Council has been given power of control, general regulations and is responsible for maintenance of standards of instruction, education and examination of the school, its one of the functions, undoubtedly is to regulate the admission of students.

“The Vice-Chancellor himself is the Chairman of the Academic Council and there was no difficulty and with regard to meetings of the Academic Council Clause 15 sub-clause (6) provides that if urgent action by the Academic Council becomes necessary, the Chairman of the Academic Council is empowered to permit the business to be transacted by circulation of papers to the members of the Academic Council.”

The Court, hence, held that the recommendation of Academic Council was necessary to be obtained for holding a separate entry test namely NLAT especially when NLSIU was proposing to hold the above test instead of admitting the students by CLAT from which common law admission test, admission in LL.B. course was being done for last more than a decade. When NLSIU wanted to conduct NLAT as online home proctored test of 45 minutes containing 40 questions which mode and manner was different from earlier prescriptions, the recommendations of Academic Council were must.

Hence, the admission notification dated 03.09.2020 having been issued without recommendation of Academic Council is not in accordance with the provisions of Act, 1986 and is unsustainable.

WHETHER NLSIU BEING FOUNDER MEMBER OF CONSORTIUM OF NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITIES, IS BOUND BY ITS BYE-LAWS AND WAS OBLIGED TO ADMIT THE STUDENTS FOR INTEGRATED B.A.LL.B. (HONS.) PROGRAMME THROUGH CLAT 2020?

National Law School of India University, Bangaluru from the beginning shouldered the leading role in conduct of CLAT. Different National Law Universities have been established by different statues and have statutory functions and obligations to achieve a common purpose and to give a boost to legal education in the country. They have themselves imposed obligations on them to be a part of the Consortium for a common cause. CLAT being an All India Examination for different National Law Universities has achieved its own importance and prominence in legal education. The steps taken by National Law Universities to form a Consortium and to cooperate with each other in conduct of CLAT is towards discharge of their public duty entrusted under the different statutes. The duty to uphold its integrity lies on the shoulder of each and every member.

Thousands of the students who aspire to have a career in law look forward to the CLAT as a prestigious test and CLAT has proved its usefulness and utility in this country. Students look forward to the Consortium for providing correct and fair assessment of the merits of the students. The bye-laws under which members are required to admit the students in their law universities on the basis of the CLAT for UG and PG law courses are binding on the members.

Even though obligations on members of Consortium under the Bye-Laws are not statutory obligations but those obligations are binding on the members. All members occupying significant and important status have to conduct in fair and reasonable manner to fulfill the aspirations of thousands of students who look on these National Law Universities as institutions of higher learning, personality and career builders.

“… the statutes under which National Law Universities have been established cast public duties on these NLUs to function in a fair, reasonable and transparent manner. These institutions of higher learning are looked by society and students with respect and great Trust. All NLUs have to conduct themselves in a manner which fulfills the cause of education and maintain the trust reposed on them.”

WHETHER “DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY” WAS APPLICABLE IN THE FACT SITUATION OF THE ONGOING PANDEMIC?

NLSIU follows a unique system of Trimester, each semester has 70 teaching days per three months term. The first Trimester as per resolution of academic council was to begin on 01.07.2020 and was to end till 30th September,2020. This period of three months is not available for NLSIU to start the first semester.

The Court, however, noticed that

“The entire country is struggling with Pandemic Covid-19 from March 2020. Loss in the academic year is for all Universities in the Country. The Academic Calendar of each University stood disrupted by Covid-19. None of the Universities have declared the year as a ‘zero year’.”

Not convinced with the submission that “Doctrine of Necessity” was applicable in the fact situation of the ongoing pandemic, the bench noticed that as provided by UGC guidelines dated 06.07.2020, the UGC expected the Universities to carry on some amendments in their academic calendar for the session 2020-21.

“The Universities are not powerless to modify their Academic Calendar looking to the pandemic. The Academic year 2020-21 is not a normal academic year in which Universities are expected to carry on their teaching and other activities in normal mode and manner.”

Hence, NLSIU could have very well found out ways and means to start the academic Under-Graduate Law course even if it starts in mid of October 2020 after conduct of the CLAT on 28.09.2020.

WHETHER ONLINE HOME PROCTORED EXAMINATION LACKS TRANSPARENCY AND IS VIOLATIVE OF THE RIGHTS OF THE STUDENTS UNDER ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONSTITUTION?

The Court took note of the fact that about 69,000 students have registered for CLAT-2020. 60 percent of 69,000 comes to 41,400. The registration into NLAT being only 24,603 out of which only 23,225 could appear makes it clear that a large number of students who could have wanted to apply for admission in NLSIU could not even apply due to shortage of time and technical requirement insisted by respondent No.1 University.

“The above figures fully support the submissions of the petitioner that a large section of the students especially belonging to marginalised sections of the society were denied the opportunity to appear in the examination.”

The Court, hence, held that the home based online examination as proposed by NLSIU for NLAT 2020-21 could not be held to be a test which was able to maintain transparency and integrity of the examination. The short notice and technological requirements insisted by the University deprived a large number of students to participate in the test violating their rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

WHETHER NLAT HELD ON 12.09.2020 WITH RE-TEST ON 14.09.2020 WAS MARRED BY MALPRACTICES AND DESERVES TO BE SET ASIDE?

Refusing to go into this question, the Court said that it is not necessary for this court to enter into various materials referred to by the petitioners and the reports and to decide as to whether malpractices were actually adopted in the examination or not. NLSIU being premier University, we have no doubt that it must have taken all necessary precautions to avoid any malpractices and cheating in the examination.

The Court also noticed that the University has also filed a complaint of Cyber Crime which may be inquired in accordance with law. It, hence, said

“We need not express any opinion in this proceeding under Article 32 with regard to the aspect of malpractices in the test conducted on 12.09.2020 and 14.09.2020 which is essentially a matter of scrutiny of facts and evidence.”

DIRECTIONS

  1. The notice for admission to the five year integrated B.A.LL.B(Hons.) programme 2020-21 dated 03.09.2020 Annexure -P 14 as well as Press Release 106 on NLSIU admission 2020-21 dated 04.09.2020 Annexure-P 15 are quashed.
  2. CLAT-2020 examination to be conducted on 28.09.2020 taking all precautions and care for health of the students after following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD).
  3. Entire process of declaration of the result to be completed as early as possible to enable the NLSIU and other National Law Universities to start their course by the mid of October-2020.
  4. NLSIU shall also complete the admission of B.A.LL.B(Hons.) programme 2020-21 on the basis of the result of CLAT-2020.

[Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 761, decided on 21.09.2020]

Law School NewsOthers

NLSIU has released a notification stating that there have been unfounded allegations with respect to the NLAT paper leak. As per the official release, students who faced technical difficulties were given an additional slot on monday. A legal news website claimed that they got their hands on the copy of the exam questions while the exam was still going on.

NLSIU has replied that it does appear that some questions were copied and circulated on emails and messaging apps after logging in. Although this is a malpractice under proctoring rules but this does not affect the integrity of the exam as all questions were available to candidates after login. As the technology platform tracks and compares every student’s answer behaviour patterns therefore any unusual behaviour will result in identification and disqualification. NLSIU has reassured candidates and their parents that they will be transparent and ensure exam integrity at all times.

The circular can be read here.[1]


[1] https://www.nls.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/PRESS-RELEASE-3.pdf


*Nilufer Bhateja, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has refused to stay the conduct of NLAT by NLSIU Bengaluru which is scheduled to be held today but has directed that “neither the result shall be declared nor any admission be made consequent thereto.”

The conduct of NLAT for admission to the Five-Years Integrated B.A., LL.B (Hons.) Programme, 2020-21 has been challenged on the ground that Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) has already been notified and has been postponed to 28th September, 2020. Senior Advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that since NLSIU is also part of it, no separate admission test by National Law School of India University, Bengaluru could have been held which has been notified to be held.

Senior Advocate Arvind P. Datar, appearing on behalf of NLSIU submitted that examination is scheduled for 12.09.2020 and all preparations have been made for conducting the admission test.

Looking to the importance of the issues raised in this petition, the Court permitted the respondents to file their reply to the writ petition. Listing the matter for further hearing on 16.09.2020, the Court directed.

“examination for admission in pursuance of Notification dated 04.09.2020 may take place but neither the result shall be declared nor any admission be made consequent thereto. We make it clear that conducting of examination shall be subject to the outcome of the writ petition.”

In the notification dated 04.09.2020, NLSIU had stated that the decision was taken due to the unforeseen difficulties and delays in the conduct of CLAT 2020. As NLSIU follows a trimester system it was uniquely disadvantaged as every academic year is made up of three terms of 90 days duration. Moreover, each term must accommodate 60 hours of classroom instruction in each course and adequately provide for examination and evaluation processes. If it were unable to complete admissions by the end of September 2020 it would inevitably result in a ‘Zero Year’ with no admission. Read more

[Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 734, order dated 11.09.2020]

Law School NewsOthers

Timings for NLAT Undergraduate Exam Announced

The NLSIU authorities have announced that the NLAT will be conducted in three batches on September 12. Candidates will be informed about their batch 24 hours in advance of the exam. The timings of the three batches are given below:

Batch 1:

Reporting time: 12:00 pm

Exam Start time: 12:30 pm

Batch 2:

Reporting time: 1.45 pm

Exam Start time: 2.15 pm

Batch 3:

Reporting time: 3:30 pm

Exam Start time: 4:00 pm

15 minutes extra will be given to PWD Candidates as per notification released earlier

Simulation Test Details Notified

NLSIU has informed that candidates may receive a different batch time for the Simulation Test which is to be held on September 11th than for the actual NLAT examination. This is a measure to prevent malpractice. Candidates are requested to check the batch timings for the Simulation Test and for the actual NLAT examination carefully.[1]

List of Test Centres Increased

List of test centres has increased from 14 to 35, this has been notified in the FAQ section of the NLS website under the heading ‘test centres’[2]


[1] https://twitter.com/NLSIUofficial/status/1304084034625044480 

[2] https://www.nls.ac.in/admissions/nlat-2020-faqs/


Also read

NLAT to be conducted in three sessions

Facing backlash on social media, NLSIU is devising ways to make NLAT 2020 more accessible for candidates

NLSIU all set to conduct separate entrance test for the academic year 2020-21, CLAT scores not to be considered 

Technical requirements for NLSIU’s NLAT exam to be held on 12th September

NLAT| Latest Press Releases by NLSIU, including instructions for PWD candidates [Key Highlights]

Hot Off The PressLaw School NewsNewsOthers

The NLAT will be conducted in three sessions. This was updated in the  FAQ section of the official website .

The new insertion states that:

“UG NLAT 2020 will be conducted in three sessions in line with other large examinations. It is possible that in spite of all efforts to maintain equivalence among various question papers, the difficulty level of the question papers administered in different sessions may not exactly be the same.”

To resolve this issue, NLAT has come up with the following solution

“To overcome this, a Normalization procedure will be used to compile law scores across batches and ensure a level playing field where candidates are neither benefited nor disadvantaged due to the difficulty level of the exam.”

NLAT is yet to notify the timings of the UG exam.

NLAT has notified the protocol for monitoring the exam, NLAT is a home based test except for students who opt to take it at a centre. The notification states the following

  1. The proctor will verify the identity of candidates by checking government IDs. In case of PWD candidates both candidate’s and scribe’s identity will be verified. In case of impersonation, the proctor will not allow the impersonator to start the exam.
  2. In case the candidate is in inappropriate surroundings or seems to be getting external help  Proctors will send this type of messages to such candidates:

a. “Please sweep the camera in a circle around the place you are taking the assessment” and / or: “Please tilt the device/ keyboard you are using for the assessment”.

b. Candidates to show a 360-degree view of the entire room by turning on a webcam (laptops/desktops) or front/ selfie camera (as directed by proctor) (mobile devices)/ tilt the device/ keyboard, as instructed.

If any unauthorized person is found then proctor can terminate the exam immediately. Candidates will get 45 seconds to reply to proctor’s instructions, failing which the exam will be terminated. Additional 10 seconds can be granted at proctor’s discretion.

  1. Candidates will be logged out of exam after 5 attempts of trying to switch window ie. trying to access any other window except the test window.
  2. If the candidate’s face cannot be detected, then a warning will be sent and if the candidate does not reappear within 45 seconds then his exam will be terminated. If the candidate is talking or making gestures, then also warning will be given and exam terminated if the student does not comply.
  3. If any other person or device is detected in vicinity then a warning will be sent and if the person does not leave immediately or that device is removed  then the exam will be terminated.
  4. If the candidate is seen wearing headphones, earphones or bluetooth devices then a warning will be sent and the exam terminated if the candidate does not comply. These devices can be plugged in for microphone purposes but the candidate should not be wearing them
  5. If there are simultaneous login attempts from various devices

a. Proctor will observe picture of candidates from all devices

b. If observed that someone other than the candidate is logging in then the exam will be terminated immediately.

c. If the same person is observed in all devices, the proctor will notify the super proctor who will seek clarification and disqualify upon his discretion.

In case of situations such as internet failure/ power failure, the assessment system may permit the candidate to continue answering the question paper in events of internet failure; however, this is subject to the Proctor’s discretion, and subject to the candidate’s system re-connecting to the examination interface within the time and in the manner stipulated in the on-screen instructions and the Candidate Manual which will be provided to candidates in advance of the exam

The entire notification can be read here.


Also read

Facing backlash on social media, NLSIU is devising ways to make NLAT 2020 more accessible for candidates

NLSIU all set to conduct separate entrance test for the academic year 2020-21, CLAT scores not to be considered 

Technical requirements for NLSIU’s NLAT exam to be held on 12th September

NLAT| Latest Press Releases by NLSIU, including instructions for PWD candidates [Key Highlights]

Hot Off The PressLaw School NewsNewsOthers

There have been many press releases by NLAT authorities over the past few days. For your convenience we have summarized the main points below:

Press Release Dated 4th September

● Preparations for CLAT 2020 started in November 2019. Consortium being based out of NLSIU, CLAT Secretariat and NLSIU played a key role in conceptualizing the new exam pattern. The team played a key role in developing sample questions and study modules. NLSIU provided extensive technological, logistical and administrative support and will continue to do so for smooth functioning of CLAT.
● CLAT was repeatedly postponed five times because of the COVID pandemic. The last date finalised for CLAT was 28th September which was too late for NLSIU as it follows a trimester system. If they could not finalise the admissions by the end of September it would result in a Zero year.
● To avoid a zero year, NLSIU came up with NLAT, a home based computer test, capped at a nominal fee of Rs 150/-, and testing on the same subjects as CLAT. To ensure integrity of NLAT, a combination of technological, artificial intelligence proctoring and human proctoring would be put in use. NLSIU is committed to holding a fair, accessible and safe admission process.

Read the full Press Release here

Press Release Dated 6th September

● NLSIU had on several occasions provided options for conduct of CLAT 2020 to the Consortium. The options were (1) Carving out exceptions to NLUs to conduct their own entrance test (2) allowing CLAT to be conducted in 2 or more series (3) Allowing for individual NLUs to conduct an examination, permitting CLAT-enrolled candidates to appear for a separate examination without any registration. Consortium rejected these options. The decision to postpone CLAT from 7th to 28th September, was not taken unanimously, therefore NLSIU had no option but to introduce NLAT to avoid a Zero Year.
● On 4th September, the consortium requested NLSIU to reconsider its decision stating that is violative of Clause 15.3.3 of the Consortium Bye-Laws and if NLSIU were to stick to its decision, it would be removed from the Consortium. NLSIU responded stating that under MOA and bye-laws the General Body had no legal authority to remove NLSIU from the Consortium. On 5th September, the Consortium held a meeting that the Vice Chancellor of NLSIU was in derogation of the Bye-Laws and the Objectives of the Consortium. This press release has not yet been formally received by NLSIU.
● The faculty and executive committee of NLSIU unanimously resolved and authorized the University, and the Vice Chancellor to conduct the NLAT due to the repeated postponement of CLAT. NLSIU affirms that the University, and its Vice Chancellor, have not violated the Consortium Bye-Laws. They have not acted in any manner that gives rise to any potential for a conflict of interest and therefore claims made by the Consortium in its Press Release dated 6th September have no legal basis. However, given the statements of the Consortium in its Press Release, NLSIU, and its Vice Chancellor, have no alternative but to completely disassociate from CLAT 2020.
● NLSIU confirms that it is fully committed to delivering NLAT 2020 on time and in a student friendly manner.

Read the full Press Release here

Instructions for persons with disabilities appearing for NLAT

NLSIU has released certain instructions for people with disabilities who wish to appear for the NLAT exam.

● PWD candidates with visual impairment, cerebral palsy and locomotor disability (Both Arms affected) are entitled to avail services of a scribe.
● PWD candidates with other types of benchmark disabilities are also eligible for a scribe provided they submit requisite medical certificates as instructed under Appendix 1
● Candidates will have to choose their own scribe who should be at least Class 10th pass and his maximum educational qualification should not exceed the candidate’s own qualifications. Candidates should submit a Letter of Intent as instructed under Appendix 2.
● All candidates must fill in the necessary fields in the ‘Reservations Tab’ of their Application Form and upload it into Admissions Portal.
● All PWD candidates with benchmark disabilities shall be provided additional time of 15 minutes to complete the NLAT. This includes PWD candidates who avail the services of a scribe.


Also read

NLSIU all set to conduct separate entrance test for the academic year 2020-21, CLAT scores not to be considered 

Technical requirements for NLSIU’s NLAT exam to be held on 12th September

Hot Off The PressLaw School NewsNewsOthers

The Consortium of National Law Universities met on September 5th under the chairmanship of President V. Vijayakumar, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of NLIU, Bhopal and took the following decisions:

  1. The seat of the CLAT Consortium has been shifted from NLSIU, Bangalore to NALSAR, Hyderabad in wake of NLSIU’s decision to conduct its own entrance this year.
  2. CLAT exam to be held on 28th September, 2020. Except NLSIU, Bangalore, no other Law University  to hold its test independently as was erroneously reported in the media.
  3. NLSIU Vice-Chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswami has been divested of the post of Secretary-Treasurer  of the Consortium , in the light of the clear conflict of interest between the functions of the Consortium and his decision to hold an independent test for NLSIU. In his place Professor K. D. Rao, last year’s CLAT convener and Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, NLU, Odisha, shall discharge the financial functions of the Treasurer of the CLAT Consortium.
  4.  Professor Faizan Mustafa, the Senior-most member of the Consortium and Past President shall  discharge all the administrative and secretarial functions of the Consortium. He shall also take over the control of the official website.
  5. The consortium unanimously resolved that Professor Sudhir Krishnaswami’s decision to go ahead with a unilateral test was in derogation of the Bye-laws and the Objectives of the Consortium.

Read the Press Release here


Also read

NLSIU all set to conduct separate entrance test for the academic year 2020-21, CLAT scores not to be considered 

Technical requirements for NLSIU’s NLAT exam to be held on 12th September