CLAT From Home can be Manipulated: Delhi HC

On 10.09.2020, a Single Judge Bench of Delhi High Court rejected a petition holding that conducting a home-based may not be appropriate for about 78000 students who were to appear for CLAT 2020 and this may allow the students and coaching centre to manipulate and compromise the exam.

The petitioner was a law graduate (BA.LLB HONS.) who wanted to pursue his LLM. The petitioner also had Asthma and such disease fell within the vulnerable category of the individuals who were advised by the Government not to go outside. The consortium of NLU’s invited application forms to conduct CLAT-2020 for UG and PG Law programs offered by the 22nd National Law Universities. As the entire system has come to a standstill due to ongoing COVID-19, all the Schools, Colleges, and Universities are closed completely. a

The petitioner stated that the Government made it necessary to go physically to the Examination Center and to give the said examination, which could be dangerous in these circumstances. Though the Government of India granted some concessions for the movement, still movements of individuals under the risk category, i.e. elderly, children, and others who are suffering from ailment continued to be restricted.

He submitted that direction to make him appear physically for the CLAT 2020 when he has Asthma would lead to a violation of the Right to life and Right to Health guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Further reliance was placed upon the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Disaster of Management Act, 2005, wherein specific guidelines and restrictions are provided. One of these guidelines is that persons above 65 years of age and persons with co-morbidities were advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes. Therefore the respondents are acting in violation of these guidelines and therefore invited prosecution for violating the said guidelines.

Considerin the monstrous Pandemic, Indian Institute of Mass Communication has also cancelled the exams. He also stated that a home-based online exam is the safest and the best mode in present times and especially during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respondents opposed the plea on the ground that a similar petition has been rejected by the Court relating to other professional courses. The decision of physically conducting examination was challenged by way of Public Interest Litigation, but the Supreme Court rejected the same.

It was further added that on 06-07-2020 the Ministry of Human resource issued notification for examining the physical centre for final term examination Universities such as IIT- JEE, NEET including CLAT as well. The MHA also exempted the opening of the educational institution to hold examination/evaluation work. Although there was a restriction on the movement in certain areas, identity/admit card issued to the students would be used as a pass for the movement in those areas. All the local authorities would be issued notification by the state government not to restrict the movement of such invigilators and personnel officials engaged in the conduct of the examination.

Further, the Respondents informed the Court that all such steps are taken to ensure the disinfection of the entire examination centre including provision for sanitizer at the entry gate, examination rooms, staff rooms, seating plan to ensure proper social distancing, thermal screening of all concerned individuals at entry gates, etc. 

It was argued that a home test for around 78,000 students is impossible for the students appearing for CLAT 2020. If such an exam is conducted, the students and the coaching centre will be able to manipulate and compromise the same. Furthermore, conducting examinations like CLAT through the home-test would not be able to ensure fairness, transparency, and integrity of the exam.

Also, the candidate from backward classes will be affected, if a home-based exam takes place, as this exam makes it essential for the students to have a laptop or desktop, internet connection, and network stability which could not be expected from all the students.

FINDINGS OF THE COURT

The Delhi High Court observed that a home-based exam might not be appropriate for approximately 78,000 students who were to take the exam. The possibility of manipulation of the home-based exam by participants and coaching centres could not be ruled out. The Court also observed the existence of the problem of accessibility for 78,000 candidates to appropriate technology, internet connection, laptop, or desktop computer can not be ruled out. 

Therefore, the Court dismissed the petition.

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