The Supreme Court on 21.09.2020, by a bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice MR Shah, while quashing the decision of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru to hold a separate admission test by way of the National Legal Aptitude Test (NLAT), observed that the short notice and technological requirements insisted by the University deprived a large number of students to participate in the test violating their rights under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It was also held that the notification dated 03.09.2020 notifying separate admission test “NLAT” is in breach of statutory provisions of National Law School of India Act, 1986.
Three Judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan delivered a 107 paged judgment citing the following reasons for quashing NLAT.
Firstly, the Bench stated that the Petitioners have locus to file the writ petition and that the same is maintainable. It also noted that a person, who has worked as Vice-chancellor or member of Consortium, which is entrusted to conduct CLAT, he is fully competent to espouse the cause of education by means of the writ petition.
Secondly, referring to the provisions of The National Law School of India Act, 1986 and various judgements passed thereunder, the Bench observed that the statute requires NLSUI to obtain recommendation of Academic Council before proceeding to hold NLAT by issuing admission notification, which in the present case was not obtained.
Thirdly, the Court noted that CLAT had come into existence after a lot of discussion and deliberation. Therefore, conducting a separate test was not in the national interest as well as in the interest of the education.
Lastly, the Bench agreeing with the Petitioners, observed that permitting of home-based online test could not have ensured transparency, fairness and integrity of the examination especially when the test was to be conducted for entrance into a premier Law University of the country. It added that the requirement of fulfilling technological support as envisaged by NLAT could not have easily been procured by a large number of students.
Holding the following issues, the bench disposed the writ petitions by instructing NLSIU to conduct the CLAT-2020 examination on 28.09.2020 taking all precautions and care for health of the students after following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD).
Judgment – NLAT