The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Rakesh Agarwalla & Anr. V. National Law School of India University, Bengaluru & Ors. [Civil Writ Petition No. 1030 of 2020] quashed the decision of NLSIU to hold NLAT and directed the university to admit it’s students based in CLAT.
The father of a law aspirant, Mr. Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla and the former Vice- Chancellor of the NLSIU challenged the decision taken by NLSIU to back out from the Common Law Admission Test and conduct a new entrance test for the University. It was contended by the respondents that the university was aggrieved by the postponement of CLAT as it follows a unique and distinct system of trimester and will have to declare a zero year if admission procedure is not completed by September 30, 2020.
The Supreme Court observed that the “Admission notification dated 3.09.2020 having been issued without recommendation of Academic Council is not in accordance with the provisions of Act, 1986 and is Unsustainable.”
It was further clarified that whether NLSIU being the founding member of Consortium of National Law Universities, is bound by the byelaws and the duty to admit the students for integrated B.A. LL.B (Hons.) Programme through CLAT 2020, by stating-
“Different National Law Universities have been stablished 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.”
The Apex court expounded that “The autonomy of member institutions does not in any manner come in the way of holding the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). Every institution maintains its autonomy as per the statute governing, the obligation to maintain core value of the Consortium in no manner affect the autonomy of the member university.” It was also observed that the NEET examination and CLAT are equal as they hold the interest of the students for admission at a national level.
The Supreme Court also mentioned that “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. The respondent No.1 University 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.”
The Supreme Court held as follows:-
- “Consortium of National Law Universities is directed to conduct the CLAT-2020 examination on 28.09.2020 taking all precautions and care for health of students after following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- NLSIU shall also ensure that the entire process of declaration of the result be completed as early as possible to enable the respondent and other National Law Universities to start their course by the mid of October-2020.
- NLSIU shall also complete the admission of B.A.LL.B(Hons.) Programme 2020-21 on the basis of the result of CLAT-2020.
- Consortium of National Law Universities may take decision at an early date restoring the status of respondent No.2 as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Consortium as 107 well as restoring the as restoring the Secretariat of the Consortium as to NLSIU, keeping in mind that scheduled exam of CLAT-2020 on 28.09.2020 is not hampered in any manner.”