SC allows NLSUI to conduct NLAT 2020 tomorrow, but bars it from declaring results; next hearing on 16 Sep

In a plea, ex-NLSIU VC R Venkata Rao had opposed the entrance examination, saying the decision to conduct it was 'taken without application of mind, thereby completely prejudicing students at final hour'

Press Trust of India September 11, 2020 17:39:46 IST
SC allows NLSUI to conduct NLAT 2020 tomorrow, but bars it from declaring results; next hearing on 16 Sep

Supreme Court of India. PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave its go ahead to the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bengaluru to hold its separate entrance examination — NLAT 2020 — which is scheduled for Saturday.

But the court restrained the university from announcing the results and admitting any student till the pendency of the plea.

The top court, which was hearing a plea filed by former vice chancellor Professor R Venkata Rao of NLSIU and a parent of an aspirant challenging the decision of the university to hold a separate entrance exam, said it is an important matter which needs to be decided.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah issued notices to the university and its Vice Chancellor professor Sudhir Krishnaswamy and sought their response in three days. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 16 September.

The bench said that since the examination is scheduled to be held on Saturday, it can be conducted but neither results nor any admission of students can be done.

"We are inclined to issue notice on this. It is an important matter. It is a matter which needs to be decided," said the bench during the hearing.

The plea termed holding of the separate examination as "manifestly arbitrary and illegal decision".

The NLSIU action has created an unprecedented uncertainty and has imposed an onerous burden and obligations upon thousands of aspirants, who are now uncertain about the future course of action, the plea said.

It said such a unilateral decision to hold National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) as entrance exam to the university was taken without any application of mind, thereby completely prejudicing the students at the final hour and has put their career at jeopardy for purely whimsical reasons.

The plea said that from the decision taken by Krishnaswamy, it is apparent that the decision is solely directed at "creating an elitist institution which caters to those who are able to afford to take the test, while completely ignoring the aspirations of poor, marginalized, and less privileged candidates.

The plea filed through advocate Vipin Nair said, Ostensibly, it appears that the sole aim of the Respondent No. 2 (Krishnaswamy) is to turn the Respondent No. 1 (NLSIU) from an island of excellence to an island of exclusion.

The plea sought quashing of notification for admission to the five-year integrated BA, LLB (Hons.) programme, 2020-21 read with the Press Release on NLSIU Admissions 2020-21 dated 4 September, 2020.

Through the impugned notification, the Respondent No. 1 University is in direct violation of the fundamental rights of the students who are desirous of gaining admission into the Respondent University, especially during the current and ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, it said.

It further said that an executive council of NLSIU at its 91st meeting unanimously authorized the university to develop an alternative admissions process in the event that CLAT 2020 was further postponed due to the pandemic.

However, it is respectfully submitted that the Executive Council of the Respondent No. 1 University did not have any such powers vested in it and therefore meeting of the Executive Council for this very purpose was illegal and without any basis under its own bylaws, the plea said.

It added that after CLAT-2020 was further postponed to 28 September, the NLSIU unilaterally and with obscene haste, released the impugned Notification, whereby, it was stipulated that the admission procedure to Undergraduate BA LL.B (Hons) programme for Respondent No. 1 University was to be conducted through a newly established NLAT UG 2020 Entrance Examination.

The impugned notification provides that the NLSIU shall not accept the scores of CLAT 2020 for admission to academic year 2020-21 and an examination called NLAT be conducted online.

The sudden and capricious decision of the NLSIU has not only thrown the aspirants of CLAT 2020 into frenzy and in a state of fear and confusion, it has also severely jeopardized the position of the university in the Consortium. Due to the whimsical conduct of the University, the children are put to extreme pressure and mental stress, the plea said.

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