BCI proposes to take over CLAT from NLUs
Dated: 16 September 2023 - Bar Council of India (BCI), has filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court offering to conduct the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT),
The Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex body of lawyers in the country, has filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court offering to conduct the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), the entrance exam for admission to law schools. The BCI has claimed that it has the mechanism and expertise to conduct CLAT in various regional languages, as it has done for the All India Bar Examination (AIBE), the qualifying exam for law practice.
The BCI’s offer comes in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a law student, Sudhanshu Pathak, who has sought the conduct of CLAT 2024 not only in English but also in other regional languages mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. The PIL has argued that conducting CLAT only in English discriminates against and disadvantages students whose educational backgrounds are rooted in regional languages.
BCI questions NLUs’ authority to conduct CLAT
The BCI has supported the PIL and said that conducting CLAT in regional languages will give opportunities to more citizens to pursue law as a career. The BCI has also questioned the legitimacy and authority of the Consortium of National Law Universities (NLUs), which is currently responsible for conducting CLAT on a rotational basis. The BCI has stated that all the NLUs have been established by legislation and the BCI, being the “sole interested statutory body in the field of legal education”, has no role or supervision in CLAT. The BCI has said that this arrangement amongst the NLUs has no statutory recognition and is contrary to the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961. This was reported in law portals like LiveLaw, BarandBench.
BCI offers to conduct CLAT in multiple languages
The BCI has proposed that it may be permitted to constitute a body of experts through its Legal Education Committee, to hold CLAT, wherein the committee will involve some sitting and former judges, noted educationists of legal education and eminent jurists. The BCI has asserted that it has the experience of conducting AIBE successfully in a fair and transparent manner in 23 languages and that no deserving candidate should be left out of CLAT due to a lack of proficiency in English language.
NLUs oppose PIL for CLAT in Regional Languages
The Consortium of NLUs, on the other hand, has opposed the PIL and said that while AIBE can be easily translated and conducted in multiple languages, CLAT involves much more issues in translation. The Consortium has said that CLAT is a highly competitive exam that tests the aptitude and reasoning skills of the candidates and that translating such questions into different languages would pose challenges of accuracy, equivalence and fairness. The Consortium has also said that conducting CLAT in multiple languages would increase the cost and complexity of the exam and that most of the law courses are taught in English medium.
The matter is fixed for hearing on October 6 before a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad. The CLAT 2024 exam is scheduled to be held on December 3 as per the official notification.