The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) to come up with a solution to redress the complaints of candidates who appeared in the Common Law Admission Test 2018 (CLAT) and directed High Courts not to proceed with similar cases pending before them.
Senior Advocate V Giri along with advocate A Karthik appeared for NUALS while Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid appeared for the petitioners.
A bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha said there has to be a mechanism or redressal forum to look into the 251 complaints filed by the candidates.
As the proceedings commenced, Justice Khanwilkar shot a question at V Giri,
“How do you resolve all these problems?”
When Giri pointed out that the “petition is filed by just six candidates”, Justice Khanwilkar said that it is not about the petitioners alone, but involves a larger problem.
Giri submitted that wherever any complaint regarding technical glitches was made, extra time was given to the candidates.
He also handed over an audit report to the Bench. The report consisted of details of petitioner candidates relating to the exam indicating aspects like:
Time taken by the candidate to finish the exam, number of times the candidate got logged out, number of questions attempted and answered. Giri informed the Court that the respondents prepared the report overnight and similar details are available for all the candidates who appeared for CLAT.
Noting that there are a number of factual aspects and complaints that need to be looked into, Justice Khanwilkar suggested that the respondents should provide a common platform or redressal forum to look into the complaints and should come up with a wholesome solution.
“There should be some forum where the factual aspects can be looked into. Case-to-case questions will have to be looked into. They (NUALS) can appoint some authority to look into the case-to-case aspects and that will ease a lot of problems,” the court added.
Salman Khurshid, appearing for the petitioners, requested the Court to bear in mind that a number of petitions on the same subject matter are pending before various High Courts.
The Court directed various High Courts not to proceed with similar petitions till 25th May, when the Supreme Court will hear the matter again. It will decide on Friday whether to transfer the petitions pending in High Courts, to itself.
The court was hearing pleas filed by six CLAT candidates who sought direction to quash the CLAT 2018 conducted by NUALS on May 13 with the assistance of private firm Sify Technologies Ltd and to hold it afresh.
The petitioners had prayed for a stay on the publication of final result-cum-merit list till the disposal of their petitions.
They had moved the apex court on Wednesday and pleaded that examinees faced many technical problems during the online test, besides poor infrastructure at examination centres and lack of proper guidance from the staff.
The petitioners submitted that candidates across states faced serious problems at almost 200 online examination centres and said that the prerequisites of proper electronic and online infrastructure were not made available in the conduct of the exam.The problems included power cuts, failure of log-in system, slow biometric verification, blank screens, substantial loss of time in system log-ins, frequent resetting of computer systems, hanging of computer systems, server shutdown and difficulties in moving from one question to another.
The manner in which the examination was held had jeopardised the future of thousands of students who took the examination, they pleaded. “For instance, at an examination centre at Hisar in Haryana, some students were seen attempting the examination till 7 p.m. whereas the exam was expected to conclude by 5 p.m. In essence, it is submitted that the petitioners and thousands of other similarly placed students were compelled to take the examination under grossly unfair conditions, seriously jeopardizing their result,” the petitioner submitted.
These difficulties led to significant loss of time (averaging about 5-30 minutes from student to student) which has totally vitiated the very essence of an online competitive exam of 120 minutes wherein a student is expected to answer 200 questions, the petition states.
Petitions were filed in various High Courts across the country including Punjab & Haryana High Court, Delhi High Court, Rajasthan High court, Madhya Pradesh High Court and Calcutta High Court.
NUALS forms a two-member committee
NUALS has set up a two-member committee to look into the matter today. The Supreme Court bench was informed by the counsel appearing for the NUALS that a two-member committee was set up to look into the complaints of the students.
The Committee will be headed by retired Kerala High Court judge, Justice MR Hariharan Nair and the complaints will be examined till May 27, 7 pm. The Panel will go through all the complaints received and will make appropriate decision on a case-to-case basis.
The apex court said complaints regarding CLAT 2018 will be sent online to the dedicated email-id which would be set up by NUALS within two hours today.
As per reports, the scrutiny will be done in two phases. The complaints received till May 23 will be considered in the first phase.The court has also asked the committee to submit the status report of the complaints and redressal before it by May 30. The CLAT 2018 result declaration is scheduled for May 31, 2018.