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.
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
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.
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
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
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.