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CLAT's Unfair Grip: The Imbalance it Creates in the Legal Arena

What is CLAT?

CLAT ( Common Law Admission Test ) is one of the most famous and competitive Law Entrance Tests in India, If you're a student studying in School and want to pursue law from the best law schools in the country you have to consider CLAT or AILET to get into any one of the 24 NLUS around the nation.

So, what's wrong with CLAT?

CLAT is the largest law entrance in the country and one of the biggest drawback of this exam is the entrance test fee, which is ₹4000/- or 50-60$ I would consider this as a lot of money for a student to spend on a single entrance test, and If you want to consider all of the NLUS (top law schools) you have to appear for CLAT and AILET both which sums up the amount to around 7.5k INR.

The affordability of entrance tests for aspiring engineers or doctors is significantly lower compared to the exorbitant charges imposed by the consortium. While some may contend that the consortium operates autonomously, it is important to note that examinations like JEE, NEET, or CUET are under direct governmental control. Additionally, the majority of National Law Universities (NLUs) benefit from domicile and various reservation policies, as they were established by the state. Hence, it is perplexing why the consortium insists on imposing exorbitant fees for a single entrance test, conducted once a year, which does not even encompass all the NLUs. Such a pricing structure raises critical concerns regarding accessibility and fairness within the system.

The question arises as to the precise cost associated with the examination proceedings. Considering the utilization of traditional pen and paper-based tests, specifically, those administered on OMR sheets, and even the conduction of computer-based examinations such as MHCET, which incur a modest fee of 800 INR, and Jamia Law Entrance (also OMR-based akin to CLAT and AILET) charging a fee of 700 INR, one cannot help but question the rationale behind the consortium's pricing structure.

The "Common" Law Entrance Test, may not be as accessible to Indian students as its name suggests. One of the significant contributing factors to this issue is the excessive entrance test fee. Even if a student somehow manages to afford the application fee, the overall fee structure remains prohibitively expensive. While several NLUs do provide financial aid and education loans, the high fee structure can discourage aspiring law students from lower middle-class backgrounds, impeding their pursuit of legal education from NLUs. This disparity raises concerns regarding equal opportunities and inclusivity within the field of law.

So, what's the fuss about excessive fees?

High form fees for CLAT can create several problems, including:

  • Limited Access:
    High form fees can act as a barrier to entry for financially disadvantaged students, limiting their access to the law school entrance test. This can result in a lack of diversity in the student body, as students from lower socio-economic backgrounds may be discouraged from applying due to the high cost.
  • Inequality of Opportunity:
    High form fees can contribute to inequality of opportunity, as students who can afford the fees may have an advantage over those who cannot. This can create an unfair advantage for wealthier students, regardless of their actual aptitude or potential for success in law school, leading to an uneven playing field.
  • Reduced Pool of Applicants:
    High form fees may discourage potential candidates from applying to law school, resulting in a reduced pool of applicants. This can negatively impact the quality of applicants and limit the school's ability to attract top talent, resulting in a less competitive and diverse student body.
  • Financial Burden:
    High form fees can place a significant financial burden on students and their families, especially if they are already facing financial constraints. This can lead to additional stress and financial strain, potentially discouraging students from pursuing their dream of attending law school.
  • Missed Talent:
    High-form fees may result in talented and deserving students who cannot afford the fees being deterred from applying, leading to a loss of potential talent in the law school. This can result in a less diverse and less talented student body, impacting the overall quality of education and opportunities for all students.
  • Ethical Concerns:
    High-form fees may raise ethical concerns, as they can be perceived as exploitative or unjust, particularly if the fees are disproportionately high compared to other entrance tests in the country. This can impact the reputation of the law school and raise questions about its commitment to fairness and inclusively.

In summary, high form fees for a law school entrance test can create barriers to access, limit diversity, contribute to inequality of opportunity, and raise ethical concerns. It is important for educational institutions to consider the potential problems associated with high form fees and take steps to ensure that the entrance test is accessible, inclusive, and promotes fairness and equity.

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