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 SC refuses to interfere in CLAT counselling

NEW DELHI : On June 13 the Supreme Court directed the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), a Kochi-based agency that conducted this year’s Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), to reorder its merit list after awarding compensation marks to students who faced technical glitches while writing the paper this year.

A bench of justices UU Lalit and Deepak Gupta refused to interfere with the first round of counselling, which started for the successful CLAT aspirants for their admission to 19 law colleges, but asked for the process of adding compensation marks to their score June 15.

It also made adverse remarks against NUALS for not providing back-up facilities at the exam centres to avoid the glitches. It directed the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to appoint a Committee to look into the matter and take “appropriate remedial measures including penal action” against the body entrusted with the conduct of the examination.

The bench told NUALS that it must consider suggestions by the two-member grievance panel, which reviewed the complaints by students and advised a solution to their problem. After implementing the formula suggested by the panel, the court said, NUALS must come up with a revised list on June 16 and include the qualified students in the second round of counselling.

“Any outright cancellation would visit tremendous inconvenience and hardship upon rest of the candidates. If the interest of those candidates who suffered loss of time could otherwise be compensated, there is no reason that the entire admission test be cancelled or annulled,” the judges said, ruling out cancellation of the test.

The normalisation formula, suggested by the panel, could be applied to all 4690 candidates who lost out on time during the exam, the court said. Around 54,450 candidates sat for the CLAT exam at 258 centres. Admissions to around 2342 seats in law universities happen on the basis ranking secured by a student.

The order came after NUALS advocate, senior counsel VV Giri demonstrated how the compensation formula was applied to four students, also petitioners before court.

The chart, given to judges, reflected that the number of questions attempted and the number of questions answered correctly by the students. Based on these numbers it was calculated additional number of questions the candidate would have answered if they did not lost out on time. The final marks will then be revised, based on the answering efficiency with respect to the questions attempted.

SC also entrusted the government-appointed committee with the task to ensure no such glitches are repeated in future. A report has been also sought on how to improve the system of conducting CLAT as the court observed the process needs to be revisited. On June 11, SC had refused a re-test of CLAT.

NLSIU quota move rattles law edu bosses

By Our Correspondent
In quick move on June 20, 2017 the Karnataka state assembly unanimously passed the National Law School of India (Amendment) Bill 2017 which seeks to reserve 50 per cent seats in the coveted National LawA view of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore School of India University (NLSIU) for Karnataka residents.

The bill is yet to be approved by the upper house but it has rattled the entire law education authorities because NLSIU being an institution of national importance would trigger off a chain reaction and have a cascading effect on other law schools.

NLSIU is established by a Karnataka state act called the National Law School of India Act, 1986 (Karnataka Act 22 of 1986) and the Chief Justice of India happens to be the Chancellor of the University. The state assembly is, therefore, fully competent to bring in an amendment act.

NLSIU vice-chancellor R Venkata Rao and registrar O V Nandimath were found to be beyond reach for their comments but some faculty members on condition of anonymity did murmur reservations about the move.

"We have to understand that NLSIU is a leading member of the fraternity of some of the best law schools in the country. The university has entered into an agreement with other universities to admit students through the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). The new law will have a negative effect on this," said a faculty member who refused to be named.

Further, the university is yet to understand the reservation formula. "We already have 18% reservation for various categories. We don't know whether 50% reservation will come in addition to that or as a sub-quota," he added.

He said that the university should be allowed to function without compromising on its quality. "If more students from Karnataka join us through the same channel (CLAT), it is a good development. But reservation will upset a lot of rules that are part of a large system," he added.

The bill was moved by the State's higher education minister Basavaraj Rayaraddi in the house on behalf of the law minister in the assembly.

“This year out of 80 students, only two are from the state,” Rayaraddi said, while adding that the institution must reserve at least 50% for students from the state. Although the bill originally demanded a 30% reservation, the minister revised the number to 50% on the insistence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators who form the main opposition on the floor of the house.

The minister said that the reservation was necessitated by the fact that other states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had deployed similar measures to protect the interests of their resident students.

The Bill seeks to amend Section 4 of the NLSIU Act so as to reserve not less than fifty per cent seats for "resident students of Karnataka."

The term “resident student of Karnataka” means:

(i) A student who or either of whose parents has resided in the state of Karnataka for a period of not less than ten years preceding the qualifying examination; and

(ii) A student who has studied in any one of the recognized educational institutions in the State for a period of not less than seven years preceding the qualifying examination.

K.G.Bopaiah, BJP legislator from Kodagu, said the criteria was of short tenure and insisted on students who were born in the state. Rayaraddi said discriminating on the basis of birth place would be against Constitutional provisions.

After much deliberation, Rayaraddi changed the five-year term to seven on the lines of the common entrance test (CET)- an exam conducted by the government of Karnataka determining the eligibility for professional courses like engineering and medicine among other science based courses-rules.

As pointed out earlier, NLSIU was one of the few remaining CLAT law schools to have no state domicile reservation. If the Bill gets passed, only NLU Jodhpur and NLU Odisha will have that distinction.


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