11 Jan 2008

Common Law Admission Test, finally

After much hype and fanfare, active indulgence of the Supreme Court, reluctance on the part of those officiating the law schools, and an expert committee within the Ministry of HRD, finally the Common Entrance Test has seen the light of the day.

It all started with a public interest litigation by an aggrieved student, who posed before the Supreme Court his inability to pay, prepare and sit for the entrance to the var
ious law schools, each holding an entrance test for his own, while his counterparts in engineering, medicine and even management had just one single test to prepare for and appear to be eligible for admission in diverse colleges spread across India. When the Supreme Court sent a notice to the Government of India, the latter was all very ingratiating to mull over the possibility of a common entrance test and handed the matter to the Ministry for HRD to come out with a concrete plan for the same, which we have today at CLAT or Common Law Admission Test.

Even the dates for the first CLAT have been announced (May 11 this year) and now there is a full fledged website on the same [www.clat.ac.in], as The Hindu reports [click here for full report]. However on last try, the site was not accessible. Hope it does before the CLAT. It is nonetheless to be noted, only to the pity of the students appearing for the test, that despite the idea of centralized law admissions, CLAT does not offer the full picture as of now. Not every law school has acceded to the idea and as of now only seven law schools (but fortunately the best ones in the country) have subscribed to CLAT. These are;

  1. National Law School of India University (Bangalore); [www.nls.ac.in]
  2. NALSAR University of Law (Hyderabad); [www.nalsarlawuniv.ac.in]
  3. National Law Institute University (Bhopal); [http://www.nliu.com/]
  4. West Bengal National University of Juridicial Sciences (Kolkata); [http://www.nujs.edu/]
  5. National Law University (Jodhpur); [http://www.nlujodhpur.ac.in/]
  6. Hidayatullah National Law University (Raipur); [http://www.hnlu.ac.in/] and
  7. Gujarat National Law University (Gandhinagar) [http://www.gnlu.ac.in/]

Very many law schools in the country would still be holding their own admission/entrance tests. But then it would be a far cry to look for a fully workable solution in the first year itself and I am sure gradually the admission to almost all law schools in India would either in or in association with CLAT. Some of the schools going ahead with CLAT this year itself have come out their versions of what they understand by CLAT and how the same would operate and its nice that they share the same vision. [See for example notification by NLU Jodhpur, NLSIU Bangalore]

But then again, it is not good news for all. It is only the students preparing for the undergraduate studies who would be benefited by CLAT for postgraduate, distance education, diploma courses etc. are out of the purview of CLAT and each law school would be holding a separate entrance for the same, which would imply that there does exist a wide range of divergence for the prospective students to these courses. Further, any decision to include such courses in the main stream CLAT does not seem imminent, given the wide differences in the course curriculum and reach of these programmes. Nonetheless CLAT is a good initative to start with, giving a common frame of reference and inter-twining the administration of the law schools of the country, something which has hitherto been missing. I hope this goes on to harbouring strategic partnerships between various law schools and give impetus to the improvement of legal education in the country, on the lines of the recommendations made by the National Knowledge Commission [click here for the full report of recommendations made by the National Knowledge Commission]

As for non-starters, I thought it would be better to provide a list of some law schools I am aware, which would be holding their own admission tests. A quick list (though not in any order of importance or otherwise) that I can come up with is as under;

Government Law College, Mumbai (http://www.glc.edu/)
Delhi University, Faculty of Law (website)
3. ILS, Pune (http://www.ilslaw.edu/)
Amity Law School (http://www.amity.edu/als/)
Symbiosis Law College (http://www.symlaw.ac.in/)
6. Faculty of Law,
Aligarh Muslim University
7. Faculty of Law,
Banaras Hindu University (http://www.bhu.ac.in/law.htm)
8. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University,
9. Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law,
Punjab (http://www.rgnulpatiala.org/)
Chanakya National Law University, Patna (http://www.cnlu.ac.in)

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