The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Ministry of Human Resource Development – Government of India, Bar Council of India and the organiser of CLAT 2016 – Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala in the Petition filed by Prof Shamnad Basheer for setting up a permanent body to organise the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).

The petition was heard by a bench of Justice TS Thakur and V Gopala Gowda. Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Counsel KK Venugopal submitted before the Court that though there are 16 National Law Universities which take part in CLAT and several others which use the marks obtained in CLAT for there admissions, there is no uniformity in the admission process. He further submitted that the funds gathered through the sale of admission forms are in excess to what is required.

K K Venugopal, Sr. Adv.
Justice TS Thakur  Justice V. Gopala Gowda  KK Venugopal, Sr. Advocate

Justice Thakur: NLUs are producing competent lawyers

When Venugopal mentioned before the Court about the competence of the administration conducting the test on which Justice Thakur said:

But these [alleged incompetent] Universities are producing competent law graduates.

Venugopal then told Court that the NLUs have revolutionised the legal education sector and are producing excellent lawyers. However Justice Thakur expressed his concern over the fact that good lawyers are going to corporate sector.

Justice Thakur told Venugopal:

We have no problem in considering the matter. But you have to make tangible proposals which can be given to the Vice Chancellors of the National Law Universities.

Justice Thakur and KVV discuss their college times

Discussing about their law schools, it was mentioned that those who got rejected for medial and engineering courses opted for law. Venugopal said that in their times they used to read from the Jhabwala Guides. Justice Thakur remarked that all Gold Medalists could not become successful like Venugopal. Venugopal said that there have been many brilliant law graduates who unfortunately could not do well as lawyers.

Petition heared by Justice Thakur after CJI Dattu recused

Case No. Writ Petition (Civil) No. 600 of 2015 (PIL)
Case Title Shamand Basheer v. Union of India & Ors.

The matter was listed before a bench comprising of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy on 31 August 2015. Bench had then ordered to list the matter before the bench presided over by Justice TS Thakur as CJI Dattu is the chancellor of some of the NLUs as per their respective establishing Acts.

Petition filed through Advocate-on-Record Liz Mathew makes the following prayers:

  1. Pass a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction to appoint an expert committee consisting of key stakeholders from the legal ecosystem (comprising members of Academia, the Bench and the Bar) to review the working of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and suggest institutional reforms with a view to placing it on a more robust institutional pedestal such that the exam is of a very high calibre, standards are consistent and the exam is conducted in the most professional and scientific and error free manner each year; and/or

  2. Pass a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction to the Respondents to constitute an independent professional permanent body tasked with conducting CLAT on an annual basis on behalf of the Respondent Universities in a scientific, competent and consistent manner, minimising the scope for errors in paper setting and in the administration of the exam, including framing of syllabus, determination of application fees and concessions, format of exam, declaration of results, announcement of merit lists, counselling and allotments;

  3. Pass a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction against the Respondents to be fully transparent in the conduct of CLAT and comply with proactive disclosure norms as provided for under the Right to Information Act, 2005; and 60 (d) pass such other and further orders as are deemed fit and appropriate in the interest of justice.