The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to “outrightly” cancel the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018 and interfere with the ongoing first round of counselling for admissions in 19 prestigious law universities across the country. The top court approved the normalisation formula suggested by a two-member grievance redressal committee (GRC) for compensating 4,690 students, who had suffered loss of time during the May 13 online test due to technical glitches.
A vacation bench of justices U U Lalit and Deepak Gupta said that any outright cancellation of CLAT examination would cause “tremendous inconvenience and hardship” on 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 bench said.
A total of 54,464 candidates have appeared in the exam at 250 centres and out of them, 4,690 candidates had raised grievances before the GRC within the stipulated time given by the court. The two-member grievance redressal committee, headed by retired judge of the Kerala High Court Justice M R Hariharan Nair, have found grievances of 4,690 candidates as genuine.
The students have complained of technical glitches like frequent login failures, questions not visible in full or in part, disappearance of registered answers, power failures and outages. The bench directed National University of Advance Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi, and the core committee of CLAT-2018 to revise the scores of 4,690 candidates by June 15 after applying the normalisation formula suggested by the GRC. “Upon completion of said exercise, the revised scores of 4,690 candidates will be published by respondents two (NUALS) and three (core committee) on the official website on June 16,” the bench said.
The court said that based on revised scores, the merit list should be rearranged in accordance with the suggestions of the GRC. “The first round of counseling which began on June 10, shall go on without any impediment and if any candidate is allocated a seat, such allocation will not in any way stand adversely altered as a result of revised position granted to any of the candidates from the body of 4690 candidates,” the bench said.
It said that in second round of counseling, the merit list prepared after applying the normalisation formula will be the governing list and seats in second and subsequent rounds of counseling would be allocated on its basis. The top court said that “if a candidate, as a result of revised rank list being operative in second and subsequent round of counseling, wants to secure admission in any other college of his or her choice going by his or her revised ranking, he/she shall be allowed to do so without incurring any disadvantage”.
The apex court also castigated Sify Technologies, a private firm which conducted CLAT-2018 for NUALS, Kochi, for not being able to conduct the examination properly saying, “we must record that we are not at all satisfied with the way the examination was conducted”. It said, “the body which was given the task of conducting the examination was duty bound to ensure facilities of uninterrupted UPS and generator facility. The record indicates complete inadequacy on that point”.
The court directed the Ministry of Human Resources and Development to appoint a committee to look into the matter and take appropriate remedial measures including penal action, if any, against the body which was entrusted with the task. “The committee so constituted shall also look into the aspect of having completely satisfactory arrangements in future so that no such instances are repeated or reoccur in coming years. We must also observe that the idea of entrusting the task of monitoring the conduct of entire examination to different Law Universities every year also needs to be re-visited,” it said.
The court directed the committee to be constituted by HRD Ministry to look into all the aspects after taking inputs from various sources, including the Bar Council of India, and file a detailed report within three months. It also directed the six high courts, where pleas were filed against CLAT 2018 examination, to dispose of the pending matters.