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Evolution Of CLAT

Common-Law Admission Test (CLAT) is a centralized national level entrance test for admission to twenty-two National Law Universities (NLU) in India. Most private law schools in India also use these scores for admissions. The test is taken after the Higher Secondary Examination or the 12th grade for admission to an integrated undergraduate degree in law either BALL.B or BBALL.B and after graduation in law for Master of Laws (LLM) offered by these law schools.

Before the start of the CLAT exam, all the NLUs had their own separate entrance tests. The aspirants were required to apply for every institution they wanted to and needed to prepare and appear for the exam specifically.

In 2006, a PIL was filed in the supreme court of India by a parent for a common test for conducting a single test for admission to all the NLU'S. in 2008, seven NLUs signed MoU to hold CLAT in presence of secretary MHRD and UGC representative. The first CLAT was conducted in 2008, which was MCQ based and offline. This continued till 2014 as such without any major glitches. In 2015, a revised MoU was signed to include the other seven NLUs within the ambit of CLAT and CLAT went online.

In 2015, the seeds of the CLAT Consortium were sown and participating NLUs deliberated to found Consortium in the larger interest. In 2015, a PIL was filed by Shamnad Bahir in which it was emphasised that there should be a permanent secretariat with a permanent body to look into the CLAT.

In 2018 another CWP was filed by Disha Panchal V Union of India. In this case, the direction was issued to MHRD to look into the conduct of CLAT so as to conduct in a just and fair manner. Then finally in 2018, a permanent CLAT secretariat was established in Bangalore. In 2018, Consortium also decided to conduct the test offline again. Earlier the test was being conducted by the university by rotation and now it has been decided that it will be conducted by EC of Consortium.

The Consortium became the legal entity when it was registered at Bangalore under the Karnataka Co-operative Society Act, 2019 in which 16 NLUs signed and c=became the founding members of the consortium. The remaining NLUs subsequently joined the Consortium. It has three permanent members. The general counsel of the consortium every year elects' presidents, vice-presidents and conveners for conducting the CLAT.

The vice-chancellor of NLSIU, Bangalore is the Ex-officio Secretary of the Consortium. The main objective of the Consortium is not only to conduct an admission test CLAT for graduate and post-graduate programmes of the participating Universities but also to promote quality legal education in all the member institutions.

CLAT Consortium
The Consortium of National Law Universities (NLUs) or CLAT Consortium is a group of 22 National Law Universities that conducts the Common Law Admission Test. The consortium of NLUs was first established on August 9, 2017, with the objectives to improve the legal education of the country and ensure better management and coordination among all the national law universities. Over the past few years, the CLAT Consortium has evolved into an organization that is well organized, effective and transparent in conducting the national level law entrance exam.

Previously CLAT was conducted by the national law universities on a rotation basis. However, to make the CLAT more organized, transparent and effective and to promote legal education in the country, around 18 NLUs came together and formed the Consortium of National Law Universities or CLAT Consortium. In later years, four more universities joined CLAT Consortium, today, except for National Law University, Delhi, all other NLUs are part of the CLAT Consortium.

Being a body to organize a common test for admission in NLUs, mismanagement is a common thing to happen in such a big managing body and there had been several controversies that took place.

CLAT-2009, just after the start of CLAT as a common exam, the exam was rescheduled due to a leak of the question paper, previously it was going to be held on 17 may 2009 but due to the issue, it was then organised on 31 May 2009.

CLAT-2011, candidates were disappointed with the standard of the exam, as up to 12 questions in the various sections had underlined answers due to the oversight of the organisers and students also found the paper lengthy in comparison to the time provided for the exam.

CLAT-2012 was marred by a number of controversies. There were allegations on setting up the questions out of the syllabus and out of the pre-declared pattern. The declared rank list also contained an error, due to which the first list was taken down and a fresh list was put up. The declared question-answer keys contained several errors, which resulted in petitions being filed by the aggrieved students in different High courts.

CLAT-2014 was conducted by GNLU, Gandhinagar and was also heavily criticized for being poorly conducted with results being withdrawn and declared again. Even lawsuits had been filed for re-examination. The uploaded OMRs were then allowed to be physically verified in the GNLU campus after students demanded the same. In CLAT-2017, particularly the English section of the paper had several points of error.

in 2020, NLSIU announced that it would be withdrawing itself from CLAT, and conducting its own entrance test, The National Aptitude Test (NLAT). However, the Supreme Court of India struck down the separate entrance test conducted by NLSIU and ordered it to re-join CLAT.

Pattern Reforms
In late 2019 CLAT Consortium had a press release that contained possibly the most significant change to the CLAT exam pattern since its inception. The press release mentioned that there will be a reduction in the number of questions from 200 to 150 and in order to get better students to National Law Universities who have competence in reading texts and demonstrate skills in inferential reasoning, so, the paper will contain comprehension-based questions in all the five sections of the paper.
  • Troubled History:
    The pattern of the test was wrong since the beginning and the thing which is more troublesome is that the consortium instead of identity on a way to remove the impact that access to an elite education has on the selection process, has in fact strengthened the advantage that students from big cities have. The main focus is upon 'English language skill' and in this, the schooling of the candidate plays a major role in it. Despite it being an English medium school, schools have different exposure to the language depending on the quality of the school.
  • Comprehension Misunderstands The Problem:
    Comprehension based questions involves understanding the question and then the application of logic to solve the question. Understanding the factual scenarios and requirements of the question, the English prophecy of the candidate plays a very important role. Comprehension focussed questions are framed in a complex language to assess the students, inter alia, on their language skills.
  • Not Same As The Legal Aptitude Section:
    There is a limited scope of legal aptitude section where terms can be learnt in the course of preparation thus giving the candidates required exposure to the language component of the section and consequently creating a level playing field. However, the point of concern is that the level playing field is relatively uneven in the new pattern.

In 1986 the first National Law School of India was established and from then with the time various law schools were established, as every such national law school has conducted their own exams for admission. But after a petition was filled by a parent in 2006 to conduct a common test, from then several changes has been made, from making a common test for admission to the pattern of the exam.

It was essential to conduct a common test for all the law schools, which not only helped institutions to conduct a fair and fast processed exam but also for students to focus on one exam and to ace that only. But with some controversies, the CLAT Consortium needs some changes and development. From 2006 to 2021, CLAT has gone with several changes and it's been an evolution of CLAT.

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