MHRD questions CLAT Committee on high application fees; says Rs 1500 is enough

MHRD questions CLAT Committee on high application fees; says Rs 1500 is enough
Apratim Chatterjee | Nov 4, 2018 - 9:45 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 2: The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) Committee through a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) report was questioned over charging high application fees in the past years. The MHRD in its report submitted to the Supreme Court recommended that the CLAT application fees should not be costing more than Rs. 1500 to a law aspirant appearing in the national-level law entrance examination. Further in the submitted MHRD report, the government committee found it ‘egregious’ that the National Law Universities (NLUs) administering CLAT were making a profit of as much as 90 per cent with the application form being charged at Rs. 4000, currently.

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The MHRD report also reads, “The committee strongly feels that the charged CLAT application fees is way above the required finances for conduct of the examination. CLAT is being conducted for many years now and it is apparent that no attempt has been made to rationalise the fee with the trends of past expenditure.”

The findings

The MHRD committee constituted following a Supreme Court’s direction in the light of the petition filed in the court by CLAT 2018 test takers, found that out of Rs. 25.7 crore revenue-making national-level law exam, the conducting body, National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) Kochi had made a profit of Rs. 23.1 crore. The committee also reported that, notwithstanding with this profit making examination, the convening NLU was only looking after the administration part and was not aware of the extent of mismanagement in the Common Law Admission Test 2018.

The NUALS in its report submitted to the MHRD committee has blamed its exam technical support, Sify Technologies for the mal-administration and conducting erroneous CLAT 2018.

The Kochi NLU in its clarification had written, “It is pertinent to note that despite serious issues raised regarding the conduct of the CLAT 2018 there is no evidence of active involvement of NUALS Kochi in understanding or evaluating the scale/type of problems till the constitution of Grievance Redressal Committee and in performing a root cause analysis with the help of technical experts.”

On the other part, the committee also found out that the technical support, Sify Technologies which was entrusted to conduct the CLAT 2018 in a glitch-free manner had not made proper attempts to take care of the maladministration or even find the causes of the glitches in the examination.

The Committee and Report

The MHRD appointed committee comprising IIT Kanpur-Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Deputy Director, Prof Manindra Agrawal, Director General National Testing Agency (NTA), Vineet Joshi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, Dr Ashok Kumar Jaryal and IIM Lucknow, Prof Neeraj Dwiwedi, had done some observations in the CLAT 2018 mismanagement case and made some recommendations in their filed report.

What needs to be done: Incremental Learning

The technical service provider should not be changed every year, rather the contract should be signed for at least two years with a provision of extension for one year. This will ensure opportunity of incremental learning from past experiences.

The CLAT conducting body should develop standard operating process, checklists and decision making algorithms for a fair conduct of examination, which however, seems difficult in the current scenario with change of organizing NLU and service provider, every year.

The CLAT convening NLU should prepare an audit report noting recommendations on statement of purpose, checklists and measures and hand it over to the successive NLU.

Rather than a new NLU convening CLAT every year, an experienced government body should be recommended to conduct the Common Law Admission Test.

Who’s going to conduct CLAT 2019?

This is the one of the most suspense questions regarding CLAT 2019. With CLAT Permanent Secretariat, a pseudo-permanent body constituted in National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bangalore with NLSIU, NALSAR Hyderabad and NLIU Bhopal as its permanent members notifying to conduct CLAT 2019 in offline mode on May 12, 2019, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has re-asserted before the Supreme Court that it’s the most suitable body to conduct the most coveted national-level undergraduate law entrance examination.

However, the Supreme Court had asked the NTA if it would be interested to take up the ‘entrusting-task’ of conducting CLAT 2019. The NTA in its written reply has informed the apex court that it would be if the court ‘wishes’ so.

Further, it’s just a matter of one week as the Supreme Court bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao will be hearing this matter after the Diwali holidays. The court was adjourned after the MHRD report was submitted before the SC bench.

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