The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the central government, Patiala-based Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law and the Bar Council of India on a petition pointing to serious errors in the question paper and answer key of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) held every year for admission of law students in 16 national law colleges.
A bench of Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice V. Gopala Gowda issued notice on a petition by an academician S. Basheer pointing to serious flaws in the framing of the question paper and incorrect key.
The court agreed to examine the plea by Basheer, founder of NGO Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA) aimed at training underprivileged students, after senior counsel K.K.Venugopal appearing for him told the court that both the question papers and its key suffered from serious discrepancies as "a large number of wrong answers treated by the answer key as correct answers".
Venugopal said that the flawed question paper and answer keys coupled with negative marking marred the future of a number of aspirants appearing in CLAT.
Though there are 16 national law colleges across the country but notice was issued to Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law as it was its turn to set the question paper for the CLAT examination for academic year 2016-17.
Seeking setting up of an expert committee to review the manner in which questions are framed for the conduct of CLAT, Venugopal told the court that "innovative questions to go into the acumen of the students" appearing in CLAT are not there.
Advocating institutional reforms and urging for an independent professional body for the conduct of the CLAT, the court was told that the students from general category were being charged Rs.4,000 and from reserved category Rs.3,000 for appearing in the common test, resulting in huge earnings.
Out of this money collection as examination fee, one half goes to the university conducting the CLAT and the other half for the conduct of the examination.
Agreeing that the fee being charged from the students appearing in the CLAT could not be a source of enrichment for the institution conducting it, the court said "the perfect system" has deteriorated over the years.
Asking the petitioner and others to come forward with ideas and recommendations, the court said: "It is difficult to come up with a perfectly accurate system of examination."
Basheer's petition says that the ways CLAT was being conducted constituted "serious violation of the sacrosanct rights guaranteed under Constitution of India to various prospective law students, including the right to guard against arbitrary actions of the state (under article 14) and the right to education and other connected rights within the ambit of article 21 of the constitution".