Anu Parthiban|Dec 5, 2023
Can conduct CLAT in regional languages, NTA tells Delhi High Court
CLAT 2024 is scheduled to take place in December 2023.
NEW DELHI: The National Testing Agency (NTA) has told the Delhi High Court that it can conduct Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), which is currently held by the Consortium of National Law Universities in English, in regional languages such as Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada and others. The NTA conveyed its stand in an affidavit that was filed on Wednesday in response to a petition seeking conduct of CLAT-2024 not only in English but also regional languages.
Earlier, a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad had asked NTA to file an affidavit on the issue, observing that when entrance examinations for medical and engineering courses can be held in regional languages why not CLAT which is conducted only in English. The NTA informed the court it has a pool of experts and translators in a wide range of subjects for preparing question papers in multiple languages, and if it has to conduct the upcoming test in regional languages, it could possibly be held sometime in the third or fourth week of January 2024, considering the minimum time of four months required for the preparation.
The agency conducts various major entrance and fellowship examinations like JEE (Main), CUET, UGC-NET, CSIR-NET and others. CLAT-2024 is scheduled to take place in December 2023. "Accordingly, the Question Papers in respect of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) -UG can be translated into other Indian languages, such as Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu and design/ printing the requisite OMR Answer Sheet in the required quantity depending upon the number of candidates to be scheduled for the said Test," the affidavit said.
"Hence, in principle, NTA would be in a position to conduct the CLAT Examination in English and other Indian Languages as mentioned above. The CLAT (UG) can also be conducted by NTA in Computer Based Test (CBT) mode, like JEE (Main) & CUET (UG), in consultation with the Consortium of NLUs," it added. Petitioner Sudhanshu Pathak, a law student at Delhi University, has said in his PIL that CLAT (UG) examination “discriminates” and fails to provide a “level playing field” to students whose educational backgrounds are rooted in regional languages.
The Consortium of National Law Universities had earlier told the high court that preparedness of upcoming CLAT-2024 is at an advanced stage and any judicial order compelling the introduction of additional language options this year without any deliberations and studies will result in serious administrative and operational issues. The consortium has said it has constituted an expert committee of vice chancellors of the five-member NLUs to study the issue of offering CLAT in additional languages, besides English, and to prepare a comprehensive roadmap after reviewing stakeholders’ viewpoints and potential constraints.
The consortium, in its reply to the petition, said the report of the expert committee will enable it to make suitable advance preparation for conducting CLAT in additional languages in coming years, after ironing out all anticipated difficulties. The petitioner, represented through lawyers Akash Vajpai and Sakshi Raghav, has contended that “In a hyper-competitive paper, they (students from non-English language background) are linguistically disempowered as they have to surpass the additional hurdle of learning and mastering a new language”.
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