Legal Analysis of Admission Procedure Dispute

The recent court judgment delves into the legal intricacies surrounding admission procedures in educational institutions. The focus is primarily on the court’s thorough analysis of statutory provisions, the pivotal roles of academic and executive councils in decision-making, and the significance of upholding fairness and transparency in admission processes. Stay tuned as we explore the key findings and implications of this legal analysis.

Facts

  • The Government of India convened meetings with Directors/Vice-Chancellors and other educational functionaries in June.
  • Applicants prepared for the CLAT 2020 examination for a couple of years.
  • Candidates need to ensure they can appear for the examination on the appropriate date and time using a computer device.
  • NLSIU will not be responsible for any connectivity issues or internet connection failures during the examination.
  • NLSIU reserves the right to cancel any candidate’s examination based on misconduct or malpractice.
  • A press release for admission 2020-21 was issued by NLSIU on 04.09.2020.
  • NLSIU Vice Chancellor gave an interview regarding a separate admission test called NLAT.
  • A writ petition was filed in the High Court of Jharkhand challenging the separate examination for admission to the 5 years LL.B(Hons.) course by NLSIU.
  • Faculty meetings were held to discuss the postponement of CLAT 2020 and a contingency plan to prevent a ‘zero year.’
  • Discussions were held on the formation of a Consortium of National Law Universities for transparent examination conduct.
  • The Consortium was incorporated as a registered society under the Karnataka Registration of Societies Act, 1960.
  • Various meetings and orders were passed regarding the examination process for admission to National Law Universities.
  • The Consortium decided to hold a common admission test, CLAT, for all National Law Universities.
  • Meetings and consultations were held to explore the possibility of conducting a combined entrance examination for premier National Law Universities.
  • Discussions were conducted on evolving uniform policies for admissions and grading in alignment with global standards.
  • Bye-Laws were framed for the Consortium, outlining membership criteria and admission processes based on merit assessed through CLAT.
  • The Consortium successfully conducted CLAT for admissions.
  • Writ petitions were filed challenging the notice issued by NLSIU for a separate examination and praying for a centralized admission process.
  • The writ petition was dismissed by the High Court.
  • Challenging the judgment of the High Court, an SLP has been filed.
  • On 28.11.2018, the Court dismissed the application for intervention as withdrawn.
  • The Court noticed the directions issued in Varun Bhagat vs UOI and deliberations made by various authorities.
  • The aims of the Consortium included providing high standards of legal education comparable to international institutions, better coordination among NLUs, autonomy of member institutions, conducting the CLAT exam, and sharing benefits of legal education.
  • In 2008, the CLAT was started for admission to NLU five-year law courses, benefiting aspiring students.
  • The CLAT was conducted at various centres nationwide.
  • The number of NLUs has been increasing gradually.

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Issue

  • The issue raised in the judgement pertains to whether the petitioners have the locus standi to file the writ petition.
  • The consideration of locus standi is crucial in determining whether the petitioners have the legal right and interest to bring the matter before the court.
  • This issue is significant in establishing the standing of the petitioners in challenging the admission notification dated 03.09.2020 issued by respondent No.1.
  • The judgement will delve into the arguments presented by the parties regarding the locus standi of the petitioners in relation to the subject matter of the case.

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Arguments

  • Petitioner No.2, a former Vice-Chancellor of respondent No.1, was closely involved in the development of legal education and CLAT.
  • Petitioner No.1 claimed to be the father of a CLAT 2020 aspirant, but no details were provided in the petition.
  • Challenges were raised regarding the admission notification dated 03.09.2020 for conducting a separate entrance examination NLAT.
  • Allegations of malpractices and lack of transparency were made against the separate examination conducted by respondent No.1.
  • Legal counsel argued about the statutory authority responsible for admission procedures and decision-making at NLSIU.
  • Collaborative efforts through Consortium for admission procedures and the importance of upholding credibility and transparency.
  • Disagreement on the legality and necessity of the separate exam conducted by respondent No.1.
  • Contentions regarding the role and decision-making authority of Academic Council and Executive Council in the admission process.
  • Legal references and interpretations related to statutory provisions and institutional responsibilities in conducting admissions.
  • Care and precautions were taken by the University to conduct a free and fair test.
  • The examination is not considered to be marred by malpractices based on media reports and materials.
  • Use of a combination of Artificial Intelligence and human proctoring in NLAT 2020.
  • Appointment of a leading audit firm for independent forensic audit and assessment of data related to the examination.
  • Candidates attempting malpractices should be caught and disqualified during or after the exam.
  • Some cases of examination malpractices have led to criminal investigations.
  • Refutation of shortcomings in proctoring protocol by Shri Gupta.
  • Implementation of extensive technological and other measures for the exam.
  • The completion of the Under-Graduate law course by a specific date was crucial for the university.

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Analysis

  • The judgment analyzes the statutory provisions under the Act of 1986 in detail.
  • It considers the role and importance of the Academic Council in decisions regarding admission of students.
  • The discussion includes the powers and functions of the Executive Council and the Academic Council in the context of admission procedures.
  • The judgment highlights the necessity of obtaining Academic Council recommendations for significant decisions like changing admission processes.
  • Key meetings and resolutions regarding admission processes are referenced and analyzed.
  • The impact of the Consortium of National Law Universities and its obligations on member institutions is discussed.
  • The judgment addresses the fairness and transparency concerns related to the home-based online examination proposed by the respondent university.
  • The considerations regarding taking disciplinary actions and conducting detailed scrutiny of facts are mentioned.
  • The issue of malpractices during the examinations and the necessity for maintaining integrity in the admission processes are noted.
  • The relevance of technological requirements and obligations towards conducting fair examinations is underlined.
  • The balancing of autonomy of member institutions with the need for a common entrance examination for legal education is discussed.
  • Overall, the analysis emphasizes the importance of following statutory provisions, obtaining necessary recommendations, and upholding transparency and fairness in admission processes.
  • The Act empowers the Executive Council to appoint various authorities, manage finances and properties, grant leaves of absence, and address grievances.
  • The Academic Council is responsible for maintaining standards of instruction and education at the School.
  • Both the Executive Council and the Academic Council can propose regulations, but the Executive Council has the final authority to frame them.
  • The Schedule outlines the powers and functions of the Executive Council, including appointing staff and creating necessary posts.
  • The right to establish and administer broadly includes the right to admit students, set up a fee structure, constitute a governing body, appoint staff, and take action against employees for dereliction of duty.
  • Holding a common entrance test followed by centralized counseling does not infringe on the right of minority unaided educational institutions to admit students of their choice.
  • Regulating admissions through a centralized and single window procedure promotes transparency, merit, and student welfare.
  • The conduct of a Common Law Admission Test and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test serves national interest and promotes education excellence.
  • Membership in a Consortium does not compromise the autonomy of its members as long as it aligns with the governing statute.
  • The autonomy of member institutions should be preserved while ensuring compliance with Consortium values and standards.
  • Corporations can be statutory or non-statutory, each having distinct rights and limitations based on statutory authorization.
  • Bye-laws of a society, when registered under the law, bind both parties involved.
  • Provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 delineate functions and regulatory powers of the Central Commission for electricity regulation.

Decision

  • The admission notice dated 03.09.2020 issued by respondent No.1 was found to be unsustainable and was set aside.
  • The respondent No.1 is directed to complete the admission process for the B.A.LL.B(Hons.) programme 2020-21 based on the result of CLAT-2020 scheduled for 28.09.2020.
  • CLAT-2020 examination must be conducted on 28.09.2020 following necessary protocols for student safety as per SOPs issued by MoHFW and MHRD.
  • The writ petition was allowed in the specified manner which includes quashing the admission notices, directing CLAT-2020 examination, ensuring early declaration of results, restoring the status of Secretary-Treasurer of the Consortium, and maintaining the Secretariat of the Consortium at NLSIU.
  • Status quo ante as on 05.09.2020 should be restored promptly by reinstating respondent No.2 as Secretary of the Consortium and relocating the Secretariat to NLSIU.

Case Title: RAKESH KUMAR AGARWALLA Vs. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY, BENGALURU (2020 INSC 557)

Case Number: W.P.(C) No.-001030 / 2020

Click here to read/download original judgement

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