Regulating CLAT

Conducting CLAT: A sea change is required.

Conducting CLAT: A sea change is required.   | Photo Credit: Mohammed Yousuf

With the mushrooming of more National law universities, there is need for the Bar Council of India to step in and administer the law admission test (CLAT).

In the last couple of decades, we have seen a sharp increase in demand for law graduates in the country, and the legal field has gained a new momentum with wider scope and meaning through the advent of National Law Universities (NLUs), and with the introduction of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), in 2008. The current mechanism in place for entrance test of law courses for all the institutions imparting legal education in the country is through a national-level common entrance test conducted by 18 National Law Universities that undertake the CLAT exam on a rotation basis, open to students of all streams.


But, the problem arises when a new or an emerging national law university, with little or no experience of conducting entrance exams, conducts CLAT — they make mistakes, unfortunately, at the expense of students, and the number of students appearing for CLAT exam every year is around 10,000. In fact, NLUs have been established by legislation, and the Bar Council of India (BCI) is the sole interested statutory body in the field of legal education which has no role or supervision in the said admission test.

The BCI, among its various functions, also has to fulfil its duty of regulating legal education in the country under Sections 7 and 49 of the Advocates Act. Therefore, relying on this, BCI should be the sole authority to conduct such an exam. Though the responsibility has been laid on the universities to conduct the examinations, it is well known that it has not been smooth sailing. Errors such as delay in conducting the exam, the standard of the overall question paper, withdrawal of results, and more, have been well documented in the short span of 10 years since CLAT was conducted for the first time.

It is difficult to expect the university with no experience, to conduct the exam from scratch (since many new NLUs have been added to the list and have never conducted such an exam). A single university conducting a nation-wide exam is bound to make mistakes as they are only experienced at conducting exams at the university-level. Not only this, since it is conducted on a rotation basis, there is no standardisation in the question paper as well, and it is going to get tougher for NLUs to efficiently manage the complete process with more students appearing for the exam. It is too much to ask from a single institute.

BCI, on the other hand, has the resources and relevant experience in conducting exams on a large scale. If nothine else, there would be uniformity in the manner in which the exam will be held. Therefore, rather than burdening universities with such duties, it would be beneficial to students if the exam is conducted by a central authority such as the Bar Council of India.

Arpita Tandon is a student of Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur, and Shreshth Balachnadran, is a student of CMR Law College, Bengaluru.

These are personal views of the writers.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 6:57:34 PM |

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