Petitioners and students complained to the Supreme Court on Wednesday that questions in the National Law Admission Test (NLAT) 2020, conducted by the National Law School India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, were leaked within several minutes of the commencement of the exam.
“The NLAT started at noon, and by 12.52 p.m., the paper was leaked,” senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan submitted before a three-judge Bench, led by Justice Ashok Bhushan.
Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, for the petitioners, said the NLSIU should have not held the NLAT while still being part of the consortium. The university should have adhered to the bylaws of the consortium.
The Common Law Admission Test was postponed owing to the pandemic like any other exam. The Consortium of National Law Universities has expressed its concern about the “mass cheating” and leaking of questions reported during the NLAT.
However, NLSIU has explained that NLAT complied with the “triple test” of being fair, transparent, and non-exploitative. It has, in turn, urged the court to permit it to release the NLAT results.
On September 11, the Bench allowed the conduct of NLAT, but restrained NLSIU from declaring the results till further orders.
The NLAT, held on September 12, was plagued by reports of cheating and technical errors. The question paper was leaked during the re-examination held on September 14.
The former NLSIU Vice-Chancellor Venkat Rao, who challenged NLAT in the SC, said “there has never been a leak of this magnitude ever reported in any of the earlier law entrance examinations held by the consortium”.
“Respondent No. 1 (NLSIU) has miserably failed in conducting the NLAT exam and has made a large number of candidates suffer. The examination and its procedure lack transparency and cannot be termed as a success by the widest stretch of imagination,” Mr. Rao submitted.
The consortium, through its secretary and NALSAR Vice-Chancellor Faizan Mustafa, has accused NLSIU of adopting a “cavalier attitude” jeopardising the lives of students.
The NLSIU has defended its authority to stray from the consortium and conduct its own separate admission test. NLSIU said it was within statutory powers to do so. It was not constrained by judicial directions.