WWW.LIVELAW.IN SYNOPSIS WITH LIST OF DATES AND EVENTS The present Writ Petition is being filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by the Petitioners herein seeking, inter alia, a writ in the nature of Mandamus for immediate intervention of this Hon’ble Court against the arbitrary, grossly

unfair,

negligent

and

mismanaged

manner

of

conducting the Common Law Admission Test - 2018 (“CLAT 2018”) by Respondent No. 2 to 4 on 13.05.2018, for the purpose of admissions to the Under Graduate (‘UG’) and PostGraduate (‘PG’) programs offered at premier National Law Universities of India. It is submitted that the actions of Respondents No. 2 to 4 has resulted in gross violations of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the Petitioners under Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India by conducting the entrance exam in an unreasonable, arbitrary and unfair manner which seriously impugnes upon the Petitioners’ right to receive education at the choice of its institution and irresepective of their merit, the Petitioners run the risk of being excluded on account of the mismanaged entrance exam. The unreasonable manner of conducting the exam jeopardizes the Petitioners’ hard earned prospects of studying law at the premier institutions of legal education in our Country.

It is submitted that the arbitrary and unreasonable manner in which the entrance exam has been conducted violates the

WWW.LIVELAW.IN provisions of Article 14 and also impinges upon notions of equality as enshrined in the Constitution. The technological glitches and the loopholes has led to a situation where dishonest candidates who have taken advantage of the glitches and re-attempted their entire exam, which ought to have been a 2 hour long paper, have obtained an unfair advantage over the honest candidates who have not adopted such unfair means and since there was no level playing field in conducting the competitive entrance exam, the entire process of selection of candidates based on merit stands vitiated. The above has led to creation of two impermissible classes of candidates which bears no reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. selection of meritorious candidates to the top national law schools. It is submitted that professional legal education is a gateway to a professional legal career which has been seriously infringed upon by the manner in which the exam has been conducted ridden with technical glitches and adoption of unfair means on account of the technological loopholesleading to an infringement of the petitioners’ right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. That the Petitioners herein are aspiring law students who have participated in the CLAT 2018 with the aim of joining the prestigious National Law Universities set up across the country. That the Respondent Nos 1 to 4 herein are ‘State’, ‘authority’ or its instrumentalities within the meaning of Article 12 of the

Constitution of India amenable to the jurisdiction of this Hon’ble Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. It is submitted that in the year 1986, pursuant to the recommendation of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India (‘BCI’), India’s first autonomous institute for legal education was established by the State of Karnataka and was named as the National Law School of India University (“NLSIU”)

under

the

Karnataka

Act

No.

22

of

1986.

Subsequently, numerous such national law universities were established in other states to promote legal education. As of date there are twenty such statutory National Law Universities that have been established across India. That admission to the various degree courses offered by these National Law Universities was done by way of conducting a merit based entrance examination. However, till the year 2007, each of these National Law Universities would organize and conduct a separate entrance examination for the purpose of admissions to the degree courses offered by them. This resulted in great hardship to the aspiring students and this grievance was finally brought to this Hon’ble Court’s attention in W.P.(C) No. 68 of 2006 in Varun Bhagat v. Union of India, wherein this Hon’ble Court recommended the formulation of student friendly methods of selecting the most promising candidates through a common entrance examination for the purpose

of

Universities.

admissions

to

the

various

National

Law

That pursuant to this Hon’ble Court’s Orders, the ViceChancellors of the first seven National Law Universities to be established

in

India

entered

into

a

Memorandum

of

Understanding (“MoU”) dated 23.11.2007 for conducting a common entrance test for admission to the Five Year Integrated law degree programme being offered by each university. The Common entrance exam would be called the ‘Common Law Admission Test’ (“CLAT”). Further, it was also undertaken that CLAT shall be organized and conducted on a rotation basis by each of the participating National Law Universities every year beginning with the oldest of them. Therefore, the first CLAT examination was conducted for the first time in the year 2008 and was organised by NLSIU, thereafter by NALSAR in 2009, by NLIU in 2010, by NUJS in 2011, by NLUJ in 2012 and so on and so forth. In 2014, the MoU was superseded by a new MoU dated 01.11.2014, whereby the total of 16 National Law Universities, as had come into existence at that point of time, signed the new MoU and became participating National Law Universities for the purpose of conducting CLAT every year. That from its inception in 2008 till the 2014 edition, CLAT was conducted in a traditional offline exam format across various examination centres across India. However, on 02.11.2014, the Vice-Chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (“RMLNLU”), the Organizing University for CLAT2015, announced that the CLAT Core Committee had taken

and approved a decision to conduct the CLAT Exam for the year 2015 in an Online Test format whereby the students appearing for the exam would attempt their question paper on a Computer based format. Since then all subsequent editions of CLAT each year have been conducted in the online format. As per the rotation policy for organizing CLAT, The National University of Advanced

Legal Studies, Kochi

(“NUALS”)

(“Respondent No. 2”) became the organizing University for CLAT – 2018. Further, Prof. (Dr). Rose Varghese (ViceChancellor, NUALS) became the Convenor of the CLAT 2018 Core Committee (“Respondent No. 3”) and Chairman of the CLAT 2018 Implementation Committee (“Respondent No. 4”). That Respondent No.2, vide Notification dated 20.12.2017 invited applications for admission to the under-graduate and post-graduate degree programmes in law offered by the nineteen (19) participating National Law Universities in India. It was also notified that the date of commencement of submission of Online Application was 01.01.2018 and the last date for submission was fixed for 31.03.2018. The date of CLAT

2018

Online

Examination was notified

as

being

13.05.2018. That as per the notified date, on 01.01.2018, the Online CLAT portal started accepting applications of students for the Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate courses of Law. The Petitioner(s) herein successfully submitted their Applications

to appear for the Under-Graduate edition of CLAT-2018 within the stipulated time and also deposited their Application Fees of Rupees Four Thousand (4000) each as fixed by Respondent No.2. It must be brought to this Hon’ble Court’s notice that as compared to CLAT-2018, the Application Fees for applying to the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for Engineering is Rupees One Thousand (1000) only and the Application Fees for applying to the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical is Rupees One Thousand Five Hundred (1500) only. That as per the Calendar released by Respondent No. 3 on the CLAT website (“www.clat.ac.in”), the scheduled date for commencement of downloading Admit Cards/Hall Tickets was 20.04.2018. However, on 20.04.2018, the Respondent No.3 announced through the CLAT website that owing to some technical reasons, the downloading of Admit Card will commence only from 26.4.2018. It must be noted that this was one of the first instances of difficulty and inconvenience being faced by the students on account of the lack of proper implementation and execution of the CLAT Online Exam process by Respondent Nos. 3 and 4. That the Admit Card, which was available for downloading from the CLAT website from 26.04.2018, contained the details of the Examination Centre which included the Test Centre City and the Address of the Centre and the Details of the Candidates. It must be noted

that a

document titled

‘Candidate Instruction Sheet’ was provided along with the

Admit Card

to

the

Candidates.

On

a perusal of the

instructions provided therein, the Petitioners were shocked to find that the interface of the testing software had been completely changed from the one that had been used for all the previous editions of CLAT when it was converted into an Online test Format in the year 2015. That it must be further noted that these changes in the interface were not in the nature of mere cosmetic changes but included important structural changes to the process through which a candidate is supposed to interact with the test software. It must be noted that these instructions and consequent changes

to

the interface were

released by

Respondent No. 3 and 4 and brought to the Candidates’ attention only on 26.04.2018, which is a mere 16 days before the

CLAT-2018

was

scheduled

to

take

place,

i.e

on

13.05.2018. That by arbitrarily changing the interface of the testing platform without a prior notice to the candidates within a reasonable period of time and merely 16 days before the scheduled exam date, Respondent No. 3 and 4 have severely prejudiced the Petitioners and other candidates appearing for CLAT – 2018, who have spent considerable period of time, (that is, more than one to two years in most cases) to prepare for the test and who have put in dedicated and sincere efforts in preparing and training themselves to attempt the exam

based on the old test interface followed for conducting the CLAT since its first Online edition held in the year 2015. That the aforesaid event was the second instance which bore testimony to the callous attitude of Respondent No. 3 and 4 in conducting CLAT – 2018 and the arbitrary manner in which decisions were being taken and implemented by them. The resultant prejudice, anxiety and hardship caused to the candidates who are unaccustomed to the use of computers for giving tests and who had been sincerely practicing on the old test interface with a legitimate hope and expectation that it will not be changed in the eleventh hour, is unquantifiable and patently unjust. That after preparing for a very limited and short period of time for giving the Test in the new format/interface, on 13.05.2018, the Petitioners appeared for the CLAT 2018 at their respective Exam Centres at the scheduled time. As per the instructions issued by Respondent No.3 and 4,- (i)CLAT-2018 would be an online examination, the duration of which would be of 2 Hours i.e. 120 minutes sharp and the exam would be conducted from 3.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M. (ii)It was specifically mentioned that ONLY Specially Abled Persons (SAP) would be entitled to 40 minutes of extra time. (iii)There would be total number of 200 questions in the exam. It is relevant to note here that therefore a candidate would effectively have 120 minutes to answer 200 questions, i.e. only 0.6 minutes or 36 seconds to answer each question.

That when the Petitioners appeared for their exams, the Petitioners faced a great amount of difficulties and problems at the exam centre. These difficulties can be described by putting them in two categories i.e. (i) Technical Issues and (ii) Gross mismanagement. The difficulties faced by the Petitioners are described as follows: (i) Technical Issues: When the Petitioners began attempting the exam, they discovered that the test software being used for conducting the Online Exam was replete with errors and technical problems, which led to a substantial loss of time and hardship for the Petitioners. The Petitioners discovered that the software was extremely unresponsive and would lag in its response to the inputs made by the Petitioners. The Testing software would automatically and randomly freeze after short intervals of time in some cases and in other cases it would freeze on any input being made by the appearing Candidate. On account of these technical issues, the Petitioners faced anxiety and their attention was constantly distracted by the malfunctioning software, which resulted in disturbing their focus which was required to effectively take the exam. As a result the Petitioners could not focus on their exam and were not able to attempt the exam to their full capabilities. Further, due to the constant malfunction of the test software, several candidates were approaching the invigilators-on-duty

for a solution, who were conspicuously unable to handle and resolve the Candidate’s grievances. This resulted in a situation where either the Invigilators lost their temper and ignored the Candidates’ complaints or the Candidates who faced issues with their computers were allotted alternate computers in the same room or were sent to a separate Room to attempt their exam. Thus, different candidates were given different options in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner. This was specifically prohibited by the Instructions issued by Respondent No. 3 and 4

vide

General

Instruction

No. 18

in

the

“Candidate

Instruction Sheet”. This resulted in two specific prejudices against the Petitioners. –First, the inability of the Invigilators

to

address

the

Candidate’s grievances resulted in a commotion inside the exam room as a result of which the Petitioners were constantly distracted and could not attempt the Exam with their full attention and capability. Second, the ad hoc and arbitrary manner of allocation of alternate computers and shifting of rooms resulted in a disadvantage to the Petitioners who were facing a genuine issue of a malfunctioning computer but were still not allotted an alternate computer. As a result of the malfunctioning and freezing, de-freezing of the test software, the distraction caused by commotion inside the exam room, severe disturbance in the attention and focus of the candidates and the constant shuffling of the students to alternate computers and even other exam rooms in an ad hoc

and arbitrary manner resulted in the wastage of their precious time that could otherwise have been devoted to effectively solving questions in the Question Paper. The fact that a candidate had only 36 seconds to solve a question which fetched him One(1) Mark and that a one mark difference in the score of two candidates decides as to which of them gets admitted to a particular National Law University underscores the severity and magnitude of injustice caused to the Petitioners on account of the mismanagement and the arbitrary and unfair methods employed by the invigilators and the failure of Respondents No. 3 and 4 to ensure a smooth and error-free testing software and trained invigilators while conducting the exam. However, it must be noted that apart from the issues mentioned above, the two more incidents that took place commonly across exam centres allotted to the Petitioners, which raise serious and pertinent questions on the fairness and sanctity of the results of CLAT-2018 are as follows: First, when the Computer would de-freeze or the Software would restart, it gave the Candidate two options i.e. (a) Start the Exam and (b) Restart the Exam. On choosing the option ‘Start the Exam’, the testing software would provide the Candidate an opportunity to attempt the entire Question Paper again with the timer reset at Two Hours. As a result, several of the appearing Candidates would dishonestly avail extra time using this method when their Computers froze and

de-froze while the Petitioners and other honest Candidates earnestly awaited the Invigilators to provide them with a solution. As a result of this, such dishonest candidates were able to re-read and attempt their Question Paper without any bar on the time or duration of the exam. When this fact was brought to the attention of the Invigilators by the Petitioners and other honest candidates, the invigilators, who were themselves confused by the commotion, would either lose their temper and threaten the Petitioners and other students to suppress their protests; or ignore them on the pretext of solving technical issues taking place inside the exam centre. That meanwhile, the several candidates continued to choose the “start the exam” option and re-attempted their exam with a reset Timer of two Hours using the aforementioned loophole. That as a result of this issue, several unscrupulous candidates were able to re-attempt their exam multiple times and as a result had the unfair and unjust advantage of solving a question over an extended period of time by resetting the timer each time the Computer froze and hence increasing their chances as compared to the honest candidates. The second incident which also occurred commonly across exams centres allocated to the Petitioners was the use of unfair means during the Examination. It was widely observed that when the above mentioned technical issues took place and there was a consequent commotion caused inside the exam rooms, the invigilators failed to maintain discipline and

decorum in the exam room and as a result various dishonest candidates resorted to cheating by copying answers from their neighbouring candidates/friends or by colluding with their friends/other candidates to solve separate Questions in parallel on their own separate computers and then tallying the answers with each other. This enabled them to save the time required to attempt each question and as a result more time could be devoted by one candidate to solve a question and then exchange the answer with the other candidate. Further, as a result of the commotion, there was an open discussion in the exam room amongst the candidates wherein answers were being discussed. Such discussion was clearly audible to the invigilators and yet they failed to take any action against the errant candidates and rather turned a deaf ear to the complaints of other candidates about such mass cheating. As a result, the dishonest candidates indulging in such use of unfair means during the exam achieved an unfair and unjust advantage over the Petitioners/other honest Candidates. The use of such unfair means and the failure of invigilators in maintaining discipline and decorum in the exam rooms raises serious questions about the fairness and sanctity of the final scores of CLAT-2018 which will be used to calculate the Merit based Rank List for admissions to the universities. Thus, in light of of the aforementioned incidents, the marks scored by all the Candidates are itself erroneous and therefore any Merit based Rank List that is prepared from such a

compromised and corrupted exam score would be patently wrong and unjust and would not be a reflection of the merit of the selected candidates. (ii) Gross Mismanagement: It must be noted that the adverse effects of the aforementioned issues could have been mitigated to some extent had there been effective and trained invigilators present inside the Rooms where the exam was being conducted. However, the Petitioners, to their shock, discovered that the Invigilators were completely untrained, incapable and unable to handle the genuine grievances that were raised by the Candidates. That the Invigilators failed to maintain calm and decorum in the exam room and in the resultant commotion various candidates could be seen resorting to unfair means. Further, the invigilators also behaved in a preferential, arbitrary and ad hoc manner while attempting to address the Petitioner’s grievances. For instance, the Petitioners appearing at an exam centre in Hisar observed that a few candidates attempted the exam till as late as 7.30 P.M. whereas the scheduled duration of the exam was 3.00 P.M. to 5 P.M. A video clip to the above effect is available which can be produced with the leave of this Court. In many centres, candidates were allowed to re-enter the examination centre and “complete their tests”. This was a clear violation of General Instruction No. 18 of the “Candidate Instruction Sheet”. In other centres, when technical issues took place, the invigilators promised to grant extended time at

the end of the exam but either the same was denied to the Petitioners in some centres or in other centres some students were arbitrarily given extra time as was the case in Hisar. It must be also be noted that while General Instruction No. 21 of the Candidate Instruction Sheet mandated that all exam rooms were to be under constant surveillance of CCTV cameras, it was observed by the Petitioners that in several exam rooms the CCTV cameras were either turned away and facing towards the Wall or their wires were disconnected and wrapped around the CCTV cameras. As a result, there was gross mismanagement in the manner in which the exam was conducted that has caused gross prejudice to the Petitioners and other candidates and prevented them from attempting the exam to the best of their capabilities. That aggrieved by the events that transpired in the exam centre, the Petitioners herein and other candidates who were allotted the “OM Group of Institutions” in Hisar, proceeded to file a written complaint with the S.H.O at Police Station, Sadar Hisar and reported the incidents that took place inside the exam centre. It has come to the Petitioners’ knowledge that several similar police complaints were filed against the conduct of CLAT 2018 by aggrieved candidates across the country. The technical and infrastructural errors and the gross mismanagement of the examination across centres led to

public outcry. Various newspapers, portals and blogs (namely, Indian Express, Times of India, Lawctopus, Legally India etc), reported the various problems faced by the students, some of which are:  Wrongly/insufficiently named examination centres  Power cuts,  System failures,  Failure of log-in system,  Lapses in biometric verification system,  Blank screens,  Questions not appearing on the screen,  Computers

hanging,

mouse

&

keyboard

not

functioning,  Answers not getting saved despite following the prescribed instructions,  ‘Next

Question’

option

taking

the

student

3

questions forward without saving answers,  Timer not stopping despite system hang,  ‘Submit Your Exam’ option not working,  ‘Practice test’ skipped at centres running late  Infrastructural issues such as Air-conditioners not working, non availability of pen and paper, no proper seating arrangement etc. In addition to this, the invigilators at these centres were not trained/equipped to deal with the issues and hence were

unable to answer/resolve any of the queries raised by the students. An interview of the Convenor of the CLAT Core Committee, Vice Chancellor of the Respondent University was published by a website named ‘www.legallyindia.com’ wherein the ViceChancellor of Respondent No.2

stated that examinations at

90% centres went smooth and further that at 1.5% centres computers failed. The said admitted figures itself portray that large number of students faced computer failures and technical difficulties which led to denial of a fair and equal opportunity to these students thereby rendering the entire merit list erroneous, unfair and unjust which can only be remedied by conducting the examination again in a proper and fair manner. In the days following the date of CLAT-2018, students from across the country started sharing their ill-experiences on various online platforms and social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter etc. and mass discussions ensued wherein thousands of students expressed their grievances about the gross mismanagement of the examination. The situation clearly points out that the examination was flawed with major technical issues across centres and that if students are given admissions on the basis of the results of this grossly mismanaged examination, it will lead to gross injustice to the candidates and create a non-meritorious list defeating the very purpose of the examination.

That CLAT-2018 was conducted by Respondent No. 3 and 4 with the aid of M/s Sify Technologies Ltd. (i.e. Respondent No. 5 herein). Sify Technologies Ltd. also partners with the Staff Selection Commission (‘SSC’) for organising Online Entrance tests. However, in the recent past SIFY has been embroiled with charges of corruption, mismanagement and technical issues related to entrance tests conducted by it for SSC. Sify Technologies Ltd. has been directly implicated in the question paper leak of a graduate-level exam conducted by the SSC. According to a recent news report dated 23.05.2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered FIRs against ten employees of Sify Technologies Ltd. in connection with the question paper leak incident. Further, the CBI conducted searches at Sify Technologies’ offices in Chennai, Noida, Mumbai and Delhi, and eight other locations and

also

searched the house of the custodian of the question bank appointed by Sify while the other nine employees were site managers at examination centres where the leaked paper had reached. The above facts raise serious questions regarding the competence and ability of M/s Sify Technologies Ltd. to conduct an All-India Level entrance test exam in a smooth, fair, just and transparent manner. That various Complaints and Writ Petitions were filed by the aggrieved

students

before

the

Hon’ble

High

Courts

of

Rajasthan High Court, Punjab & Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Calcutta, pointing out the technical

glitches, system failures, infrastructural lapses and overall mismanagement in the conduct of the examination. The very fact that such a large number of students have reportedly faced such issues makes it evident that the examination has been conducted in a unprofessional, unjust, unreasonable and careless manner putting the future of thousands of students in the abyss. Such gross mismanagement can only be rectified by conducting a re-examination and ensuring that it is conducted in a smooth and fair manner to arrive at a merit list reflective of the true rank of the candidates. That Writ Petition (Civil) No. 551/2018 was filed by students hailing from different states (Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh) before the this Hon’ble Court, pointing out the mass outcry and aftermath of the grossly mismanaged examination; praying

for

quashing

the

same

for

conducting

fresh

examination for staying the publishing of result and for appointing a committee to look into the issues. This Hon’ble Court during hearing the abovementioned Writ Petition directed that no High Courts shall proceed with the hearing of the proceedings in Petitions regarding CLAT 2018 till further orders. Vide an order dated 25.05.2018, this Hon’ble Court allowed the proposal submitted by the Respondent No. 2 herein and appointed a Grievance Redressal committee, to look into each complaint on a case to case basis and submit a report before the Court.

It is pertinent to note that the effect of such gross mismanagement,

improper

and

unfair

conduct

of

the

examination is not limited to personal grievances of various Petitioners and complainants, rather it has led to defeating the very purpose of conducting the examination which is to create a pool of meritorious students to be eligible for admission in the participating universities. The very fact that some students have taken the examination in a smooth manner, whereas a large number of them have faced numerous issues resulting in wastage of time due to no fault of theirs’, bears testimony to the unjust and unfair manner in which the exam was conducted. Further, reports have come up regarding the fact that at certain centres the examination was conducted till 8 P.M. instead of scheduled time of 5 P.M. In addition to this, the various reports of cheating, time issues, system failures, timer issues, technical glitches, infrastructural problems, incompetent invigilators clearly indicate that the examination has been conducted in a unjust and arbitrary manner and based on the results of such an examination, a correct and true list of meritorious students cannot be created by any stretch of imagination. Therefore, the only remedy to address this fiasco is reconducting of the examination in a smooth, just and fair manner as a solution for the problems faced by the students across the country and any other mode of remedying the same would inevitably lead to injustice.

It must be noted that in the case of Tanvi Sarwal v. CBSE and Ors., [2015] 6 SCC 573, the results of the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental

Entrance

Test, 2015 were held

to

be

irreversibly vitiated by the discovery of use of unfair means and malpractices through the use of electronic gadgets and this Hon’ble Court rejected the argument of Central Board of Secondary

Education

that

pending

the

completion

of

investigation, and identification of the beneficiaries of such malpractice, necessary action may be permitted to be taken against those already identified only and that the examination as a whole ought not to be scrapped in the interest of other students. This Hon’ble Court while annulling the exam proceeded to hold as follows:

“18. As has been noticed hereinabove, the disclosures in the investigation suggest that the benefit of answer key has been availed by several candidates taking the examination, by illegal means. Though as on date, 44 such candidates have been identified, having regard to the modus operandi put in place, the numbers of cellphones and other devices used, it is not unlikely that many more candidates have availed such undue advantage, being a part of the overall design and in the process have been unduly benefited qua the other students who had made sincere and genuine endeavours to solve the answer paper on the basis of their devoted preparation and hard labour. In view of the widespread network, that has operated, as the status reports disclose and the admission of the persons arrested including some beneficiary candidates, we are of the opinion, in view of the strong possibilities of identification of other

candidates as well involved in such malpractices, that the examination has become a suspect. As it is, the system of examination pursued over the decades, has been accepted by all who are rational, responsible and sensible, to be an accredited one, for comparative evaluation of the merit and worth of candidates vying for higher academic pursuits. It is thus necessary, for all the role players in the process, to secure and sustain the confidence of the public in general and the student fraternity in particular in the system by its unquestionable trustworthiness. Such a system is endorsed because of its credibility informed with guarantee of fairness, transparency, authenticity and sanctity. There cannot be any compromise with these imperatives at any cost. 19. Segregation only of the already 44 identified candidates stated to be the beneficiaries of the unprincipled manoeuvre by withholding their results for the time being, in our comprehension cannot be the solution to the problem that confronts all of us. Not only thereby, if the process is allowed to advance, it would be pushed to a vortex of litigation pertaining thereto in the foreseeable future, the prospects of the candidates would not only remain uncertain and tentative, they would also remain plagued with the prolonged anguish and anxiety if involved in the ordeal of court cases. Acting on this option, would in our estimate, amount to driving knowingly the students, who are not at fault, to an uncertain future with their academic career in jeopardy on many counts. Further, there would also be a lurking possibility of unidentified beneficiary candidates stealing a march over them, on the basis of the advantages availed by them through the underhand dealings as revealed. Having regard to the fact, that the course involved with time would yield the future generations of doctors of the country, who would be in charge of public health, their

inherent merit to qualify for taking the course can by no means be compromised. 20. As would be available from the status reports, out of 123 solved answers of a particular code and retrieved from the mobile set of one of the persons arrested i.e. Dr Bhupender, 102 answers were found correct on a comparison with the answer key provided by CBSE. As referred to hereinabove, 358 mobile numbers had been pressed into service and at least 300 vests fitted with electronic devices have been used. Having regard to the uncompromising essentiality of a blemishless process of examination involving public participation, we have no alternative but to hold that the examination involved, suffers from an infraction of its expected requirement of authenticity and credence. We are conscious of the fact that every examination being conducted by a human agency is likely to suffer from some shortcomings, but deliberate inroads into its framework of the magnitude and the nature, as exhibited, in the present case, demonstrate a deep-seated and pervasive impact, which ought not to be disregarded or glossed over, lest it may amount to travesty of a proclaimed mechanism to impartially judge the comparative merit of the candidates partaking therein. If such an examination is saved, merit would be a casualty generating a sense of frustration in the genuine students, with aversion to the concept of examination. The possibility of leaning towards unfair means may also be the ultimate fallout. Even if, one undeserving candidate, a beneficiary of such illegal machination, though undetected is retained in the process it would be in denial of the claim of more deserving candidates. At present, the examination stands denuded of its sanctity as it is not possible to be cleansed of all the participating beneficiary candidates with certainty. We are thus, on an overall assessment of the materials on record, left unpersuaded to sustain the examination. We

must observe that till this stage of the investigation, no conscious lapse or omission on the part of the Board, contributing to the otherwise appalling mischief has surfaced. 21. Conscious are we that, as a consequence, the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Test 2015 would have to be annulled, thereby disturbing the time schedule fixed by this Court in Mridul Dhar (5) [(2005) 2 SCC 65 : 2 SCEC 673] and Priya Gupta [(2012) 7 SCC 433 : (2012) 2 SCC (L&S) 367 : 4 SCEC 555] . Though we respectfully subscribe to the calendar of dates fixed in these cases, more particularly in the textual context thereof, we perceive that in the extraordinary fact situation that confronts us, where the examination involved is vitiated to the core by use of deceitful means and measures to benefit some, the consideration of departure from the said time schedule per se would not be a wholesome justification to sustain the otherwise tainted exercise. The time-frame fixed by this Court in the above cases, in our opinion, was not intended to be inflexibly adhered to in the situation of the kind with which we are seised of. The schedule of dates was fixed, so as to streamline and discipline the process of admission by its uniform application. In that view of the matter, we are of the understanding that the annulment of the examination and the consequences to follow, in the singular facts and circumstances of the cases, would not in any way be repugnant to the renderings of this Court in Mridul Dhar (5) [(2005) 2 SCC 65 : 2 SCEC 673] and Priya Gupta [(2012) 7 SCC 433 : (2012) 2 SCC (L&S) 367 : 4 SCEC 555] .”

LIST OF DATES AND EVENTS

The Petitioners herein are aspiring law students who have participated in the Common Law Admission Test(“CLAT”)-2018 with the aim of joining the prestigious National Law Universities set up across the country. 1986 - 2018

Pursuant to the recommendation of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India (‘BCI’), India’s first autonomous institute for legal education

was

established

by

the

State

of

Karnataka and was named as National Law School of India University (“NLSIU”) under the Karnataka Act No. 22 of 1986. Subsequently, numerous such national law universities were established in other states to promote legal education. As of date there are twenty such statutory National Law Universities that have been established across India. 2007

That admission to the various degree courses offered by these National Law Universities was done by way of conducting a merit based entrance examination. However, till the year 2007, each of these National Law Universities would organize

and conduct a separate entrance examination for the purpose of admissions to the degree courses offered by them. This resulted in great hardship to the aspiring students and this grievance was finally brought to this Hon’ble Court’s attention in W.P.(C) No. 68 of 2006 in Varun Bhagat v. Union of India, wherein this Hon’ble Court recommended the formulation of a student friendly method of selecting the most promising candidates through a common entrance examination for the purpose of admissions

to

the various

National

Law

Universities. 23.11.2007

That pursuant to this Hon’ble Court’s Orders, the Vice-Chancellors of the first seven National Law Universities to be established in India, namely, National Law School of India University(“NLSIU”), National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (“NALSAR”), National Law Institute University (“NLIU”), National University of Juridical Studies (“NUJS”),

National

Law

University

Jodhpur

(“NLUJ”), Hidayatullah National Law University (“HNLU”)

and

Gandhinagar

National

Law

University (“GNLU”) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) dated 23.11.2007 for conducting a common entrance test for admission to the Five Year Integrated law degree programme

being conducted by each university. The Common entrance exam would be called the ‘Common Law Admission Test’ (“CLAT”). Further, it was also undertaken that CLAT shall be organized and conducted on a rotation basis by each of the participating National Law Universities every year beginning with the oldest of them. Therefore, the first CLAT examination was conducted for the first time in the year 2008 and was organised by National Law School of India University (NLSIU), by National

Academy of Legal Studies

and

Research (NALSAR) in 2009, by National Law Institute University (NLIU) in 2010, by National University of Juridical Studies (NUJS) in 2011, by National Law University Jodhpur (NLUJ) in 2012 and so on and so forth. 2014

In 2014, the MoU was superseded by a new MoU dated

01.11.2014, whereby the

total

of 16

National Law Universities as had come into existence at that point of time signed the new MoU and became participating National Law Universities for the purpose of conducting CLAT every year. That subsequently three more National Law Universities i.e. Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai (“MNLU-M”), Maharashtra

National Law University – Aurangabad (“MNLU-A”) and National Law University (NLU-Nagpur) have also been included as participating in CLAT. 02.11.2014

From its inception in 2008 till the 2014 edition, CLAT was conducted in a traditional offline exam format across various examination centres across India.

However,

on

02.11.2014,

the

Vice

Chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (“RMLNLU”), the Organizing University for CLAT-2015, announced that the CLAT Core Committee had taken and approved a decision to conduct the CLAT Exam for the year 2015 online whereby the students appearing for the exam would

attempt

their

question

paper

on

a

Computer based testing format. Since then all subsequent editions of CLAT each year have been conducted in the Online format. 20.12.2017

As per the rotation policy for organizing CLAT, The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi (“NUALS”) (“Respondent No. 2”) became the organizing University for CLAT – 2018. Further, Prof.

(Dr).

Rose

Varghese

(Vice-Chancellor,

NUALS) became the Convenor of the CLAT 2018 Core

Committee

(“Respondent

No.

3”)

and

Chairman of the CLAT 2018 Implementation

Committee. (“Respondent No.4”). That Respondent No.2, vide Notification dated 20.12.2017 invited applications for admission to the under-graduate and post-graduate degree programmes in law in the nineteen National Law Universities in India. It was also notified that the date of commencement of submission of Online Application was 01.01.2018 and the last date for submission was fixed for 31.03.2018. The date of CLAT 2018 Online Examination was notified as being 13.05.2018. 01.01.2018

That as per the notified date, on 01.01.2018, the Online CLAT portal started to accept applications of students for the Under-Graduate and PostGraduate courses of Law.

31.03.2018

The Petitioner(s) herein successfully submitted their Application

to

Graduate

edition

of

stipulated

time

and

appear

for

CLAT-2018 also

the

Under-

within

deposited

the their

Application Fees of Rupees Four Thousand (4000) each as fixed by Respondent No.2. As compared to CLAT-2018, the Application Fees for applying to the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for Engineering is only Rupees One Thousand (1000) and the Application Fees for applying to the National

Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical is Rupees One Thousand Five Hundred (1500). 27.04.2018

That as per the Calendar released by Respondent No. 3 on the CLAT website (“www.clat.ac.in”), the scheduled date for commencement of downloading Admit

Cards/Hall

Tickets

was

20.04.2018.

However, on 20.04.2018, the Respondent No.3 announced through the CLAT website that owing to some technical reasons, the downloading of Admit Card will commence only from 26.4.2018. It must be noted that this was one of the first instances of difficulty and inconvenience being faced by the students on account of the lack of proper implementation and execution of the CLAT Online Exam process by Respondent Nos. 3 and 4. 26.04.2018

On 26.04.2018, the Petitioners herein and all the other

candidates

appearing

for

CLAT

2018

downloaded their Admit Cards which contained the details of the Examination Centre which included the Test Centre City and the Address of the Centre and the Details of the Candidates. It must further be noted that a document titled ‘Candidate Instruction Sheet’ was provided along with the Admit Card to the Candidates. That on a

perusal of the instructions therein, the Petitioners were shocked to find that the interface of the testing software had been completely changed from the interface that had been used used for all previous editions of CLAT Exam when it was converted into a Online Testing Format in the year 2015. It must be noted that these changes in the Interface were not in the nature of mere cosmetic changes

but

included

important

structural

changes to the process through which a candidate is supposed to interact with the testing software. It must be noted that these instructions and consequent changes to the interface were released by Respondent No. 3 and 4 and brought to the Candidate’s attention on 26.04.2018 which is mere

16

days

before

the

CLAT-2018

was

scheduled to take place. Thus by arbitrarily changing the Interface of the testing platform without a reasonable notice period and just 16 days before the scheduled exam date, Respondent No. 3 and 4 have severely prejudiced the Petitioners and other candidates appearing for CLAT – 2018, who have spent considerable period of time, (that is, more than

one to two years in most cases) to prepare for the test and who have put in dedicated and sincere efforts in preparing and training themselves to attempt the exam based on the old testing interface followed for conducting the CLAT since its first Online edition held in the year 2015. . That the aforesaid event was the second instance which bore testimony to the callous attitude of Respondent No. 3 and 4 in conducting CLAT – 2018 and the arbitrary manner in which decisions were being taken and implemented by them. The consequent

prejudice,

anxiety

and

hardship

caused to the candidates who are unaccustomed to the use of computers for giving tests and who had been sincerely practicing on the old testing interface with a legitimate hope and expectation that it will not be changed in the eleventh hour, is unquantifiable and patently unjust.

13.05.2018

The Petitioners appeared for the CLAT 2018 at their respective Exam Centres on the scheduled date of exam, i.e.13.05.2018. As per the instructions issued by Respondent

No.3 and 4- (i)CLAT-2018 would be an online examination. The Duration of the exam would be of 2 Hours i.e. 120 minutes sharp and the exam would be conducted from 3.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M. (ii)It

was

specifically

mentioned

that

ONLY

Specially Abled Persons (SAP) would be entitled to 40 minutes of extra time.(iii) There would be total number of 200 questions in the exam. It must be noted that therefore a candidate would effectively have 120 minutes for200 questions, i.e.only 0.6 minutes or 36 seconds to answer each question. When the Petitioners appeared for the exam, the Petitioners faced severe difficulties and problems while attempting the exam. These difficulties were of two categories i.e. (i) Technical Issues and (ii) Gross mismanagement. 13.05.2018

That aggrieved by the events that transpired in the examination centres, the Petitioners herein and other candidates who were allotted the “OM Group of Institutions” in Hisar, proceeded to file a written complaint with the S.H.O. at Police Station Sadar Hisar and reported the incidents that took place therein. Several similar police complaints were filed against the conduct of CLAT 2018 by aggrieved candidates across the country.

14.05.2018

Technical and Infrastructural errors and the gross mismanagement

of

the

examination

across

centres led to public outcry. Various newspapers, portals, blogs (Indian Express, Times of India, Lawctopus, Legally India etc), which reported the problems faced by the students, some of which were:  Wrongly/insufficiently named examination centers  Power cuts,  System failures,  Failure of log-in system,  Lapses in biometric verification system,  Blank screens,  Questions not appearing on the screen,  Computers hanging, mouse & keyboard not functioning,  Answers not getting saved despite following the prescribed instructions,  ‘Next Question’ option taking the student 3 questions forward without saving answers,  Timer not stopping despite system hang,

 ‘Submit Your Exam’ option not working,  ‘Practice test’ skipped at centres running late  Infrastructural

issues

such

as

Air-

conditioners not working, non availability of pen

and

paper,

no

proper

seating

arrangement etc.

14.05.2018

An interview of the Convenor of the CLAT Core Committee, Vice Chancellor of the Respondent University was published by a website named ‘www.legallyindia.com’

wherein

Chancellor of Respondent No.2

the

Vice-

stated that

examinations at 90% centres went smooth and further that at 1.5% centres computers failed. The said admitted figures itself portray that at least more than 1000 students faced computer failures and technical difficulties which led to denial of a fair and equal opportunity to these students thereby rendering the entire merit list unfair and unjust which can only be remedied by re-conducting the exam in a proper and fair manner. 15.05.2018

Students from across the country started sharing their ill-experiences on various online platforms

such

as

Facebook,

discussions

Twitter

ensued

etc.

wherein

and

mass

thousands

of

students expressed their grievances about the gross mismanagement of the examination. 15.05.2018

Various Complaints and Writ Petitions were filed

-

by the aggrieved students before the Hon’be High

23.05.2018

Courts of Rajasthan, Punjab & Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Calcutta, pointing out

the

technical

glitches,

system

failures,

infrastructural lapses and overall mismanagement of the examination. 18.05.2018

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 551/2018 was filed by students hailing from different states (Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh) before this Hon’ble Court,

pointing

aftermath

out

of

the

the

mass

grossly

outcry

and

mismanaged

examination, praying for quashing the same, for conducting fresh examination, for staying the publishing

of

result

and

for

appointing

a

committee to look into the issues. 23.05.2018

CLAT-2018 was conducted by Respondent No. 3 and 4 with the aid of M/s Sify Technologies Ltd. (“Respondent No. 5”). Sify Technologies Ltd. also partners

with

the

Staff

Selection

Commission(‘SSC’) for organising Online Entrance

tests. However, in the recent past SIFY has been embroiled

in

charges

of

corruption,

mismanagement and technical issues related to entrance tests conducted by it for SSC. That Sify Technologies Ltd. has been directly implicated in the question paper leak of a graduate-level exam conducted by the SSC. According to a recent news report dated 23.05.2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation

registered

FIRs

against

ten

employees of Sify Technologies Ltd. in connection with the question paper leak incident. Further, The CBI conducted searches at Sify Technologies’ offices in Chennai, Noida, Mumbai and Delhi, and eight other locations. The agency also searched the house of the custodian of the question bank appointed by Sify while the other nine employees were site managers at examination centres where the leaked paper had reached. 24.05.2018

This Hon’ble Court in the abovementioned Writ Petition directed that no High Courts shall proceed with the hearing of the proceedings in Petitions regarding CLAT 2018 till further orders.

25.05.2018

This

Hon’ble

Court

allowed

the

proposal

submitted by the Respondent No. 2 herein and appointed a Grievance Redressal committee, to

look into each complaint on a case to case basis and submit a report before the Court. Hence the present Writ Petition.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. _____ OF 2018 (Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India)

IN THE MATTER OF: 1.

Akshat Aggarwal S/o Ajay Kumar Aggarwal 1137, Near Balaji Park, Sector 14, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

2.

Prakhar Sharma S/o Narender Sharma DAV Police Public School Hisar, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

3.

Gaurav Kundu S/o Ramphal Kundu H. No. 45, Yadav Colony, Kaimri Road Opp. Sec. 15A, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

4.

Shubham Sarkar S/o Swapan Kumar Sarkar KL 20 By 1, Road No. 26, Telco Colony, Near Sunday Market, East Singhbum, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand - 831004

5.

Aaditay Chhabra S/o Bharat Bhushan Chabbra Gandhi Nagar Colony, Street 2, H. No. 685, Hisar, Haryana – 125033

6.

Ritesh Tiwari S/o Rajesh Tiwari 286 B-9A, Malakraj Rambagh, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh – 211003

7.

Anubhava Dwivedi S/o Ramakant Dwivedi C-108, Sector E, Aliganj, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 226024

8.

Priya S/o Sher Singh H. No. 307, Shyam Vihar, Near Hisar Bypass, Fatehabad, Haryana – 125050

9.

Shifa Verma D/o Dara Singh H. No. 1485, Sector 14, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

10.

Sukhanpreet Singh S/o Sarbjeet Singh VPO Amritsar Kalan, Ellenabad, Sirsa, Haryana – 125102

11.

Shivam S/o Ranbir H. No. 1712, Ward No. 7, Jawahar Nagar, Opp. Tika Ram House Jind, Haryana – 126102

12.

Saksham Sehgal S/o Mahendra K. Sehgal H. No. 51, HUDA Sector 3, Fatehbad, Haryana – 125050

13.

Ruby D/o Shishpal VPO Baroda, Tehsil Uchana, Jind, Haryana – 126115.

14.

Jyoti Rani D/o Ran Singh H. No. 3, HUDA Sector 3, Fatehabad, Haryana – 125050.

15.

Muskan, D/o Surender VPO Uchana Khurd, Jind, Haryana – 126115.

16.

Drishika Singh Sangwan D/o Vinod Kumar H. No. 666, Master Harbir Singh, VPO Chandeni, Charkhi Dadri, Haryana – 127310.

17.

Vaibhav Jalan S/o Vinod Kumar Jalan Chhawni Bazar, Bahrauch, Uttar Pradesh – 271801.

18.

Om Prakash Singh S/o Arjun Kumar Kharkhura, Delha, Gaya, Bihar – 823002.

19.

Anurag Singh S/o Jaipan Singh E-75, Mansarovar Colony, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh -244001.

20.

Monalisha D/o Kamal Nath Prasad Maheshapur, Aliganj, Bhagalpur, Bihar – 812005.

21.

Hansika Pandey D/o Mahendra Kumar Pandey Flat No. 602, Rohini, Sunrise Apartment, Sector P, Mansarovar, Yojna Kanpur Road, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 226012.

22.

Muskaan Vijay D/o Vijay Kumar House No. 36, H- Block Colony behind C.S.P. Office Thatipur, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh – 474011.

23.

Jyotsana Seth D/o Kamal Shekhar Gupta 586 Gudri near Ram Sharan Temple, Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh – 271801.

24.

Yukta D/o Vinod Rawat VPO Talwandi Rana, Hisar, Haryana – 125001.

25.

Mayank Grewal S/o Rajesh Grewal H.No. 704, Satrod Khass, Hisar, Haryana - 125044

26.

Jyoti Sharma D/o Suresh Sharma Jind, Haryana - 126102

27.

Rachit Agrawal S/o Sanjay Agrawal 305 Vishal Khand, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 226010

28.

Mohd. Haider Zaidi S/o Aziz Ahmad Zaidi 456 Sajjad Bagh Colony, Thakurganj Chowk, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh - 226003

29.

Shubham Gupta S/o Rakesh Kumar Gupta Gali Dakotan, Bhiwani, Haryana - 127021 . . . PETITIONERS

VERSUS 1.

Union of India, Through the Secretary Ministry of Human Resource Development, Shahstri Bhawan Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi – 110001

2.

The National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) Kochi “CLAT 2018 – Organizing University” Through its Registrar HMT Colony P.O. Kalamassery, Kochi, Kerala – 683503.

3.

Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018 Core Committee. Through its Convenor Vice-Chancellor, National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi HMT Colony P.O. Kalamassery, Kochi, Kerala – 683503.

4.

Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018 Implementation Committee. Through its Chairman Vice-Chancellor, National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi HMT Colony P.O. Kalamassery, Kochi, Kerala – 683503.

5.

Sify Technologies Ltd. Tidel Park, 2nd Floor, No.4, Canal Bank Road, Taramani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu - 600113 ALL ARE CONTESTING RESPONDENTS PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 32 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

To, THE HON’BLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA AND HIS COMPANION JUDGES OF THE HON’BLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA.

THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE PETITIONERS ABOVE-NAMED:

MOST RESPECTFULLY SHEWETH: 1.

The present Writ Petition is being filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by the Petitioners herein

seeking, inter alia, a writ in the nature of Mandamus for immediate intervention of this Hon’ble Court against the arbitrary, grossly unfair, negligent and mismanaged manner of conducting the Common Law Admission Test - 2018 (“CLAT 2018”) by Respondent No. 2 to 4 on 13.05.2018, for the purpose of admissions to the Under Graduate (‘UG’) and Post-Graduate (‘PG’) programs offered at premier National Law Universities of India.

2.

It is submitted that the actions of Respondents No. 2 to 4 has resulted in gross violations of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the Petitioners under Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India by conducting the entrance exam in an unreasonable, arbitrary and unfair manner which seriously impugnes upon the Petitioners’ right to receive education at the choice of its institution and irresepective of their merit, the Petitioners run the risk of being excluded on account of the mismanaged entrance exam. The unreasonable manner of conducting the exam jeopardizes the Petitioners’ hard earned

prospects

of studying law

at the premier

institutions of legal education in our Country.

3.

It is submitted that the arbitrary and unreasonable manner in which the entrance exam has been conducted violates the provisions of Article 14 and also impinges

upon

notions

Constitution.

of The

equality

as

enshrined

technological

glitches

in

the

and

the

loopholes has led to a situation where dishonest candidates who have taken advantage of the glitches and re-attempted their entire exam, which ought to have been a 2 hour long paper, have obtained an unfair advantage over the honest candidates who have not adopted such unfair means and since there was no level playing field in conducting the competitive entrance exam, the entire process of selection of candidates based on merit stands vitiated.

The

above

has

led

to

creation

of

two

impermissible classes of candidates which bears no reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. selection of meritorious candidates to the top national law schools.

It is submitted that professional legal

education is a gateway to a professional legal career which has been seriously infringed upon by the manner in which the exam has been conducted ridden with technical glitches and adoption of unfair means on account of the technological loopholes leading to an infringement of the petitioners’ right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. 4.

That the Petitioners No. 1 to 24 herein are aspiring law students who have participated in the CLAT 2018 with the

aim

of

joining

the

prestigious

National

Law

Universities set up across the country. A brief description of the Petitioners are as follows:

S.N. 1.

Name Akshat Aggarwal

Roll No. 10033693

Exam Center Om Group of Institution,

S/o Ajay Kumar

12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan,

Aggarwal

Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

2.

Prakhar Sharma

10014953

Om Group of Institution,

S/o Narender

12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan,

Sharma

Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

3.

Gaurav Kundu

10019913

S/o Ramphal Kundu

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

4.

Shubham Sarkar

10046887

Orlando Academy,

S/o Swapan Kumar

20-21, Press Complex,

Sarkar

A.B. Road, Indore, Madhya Pradesh – 452002

5.

Aaditay Chhabra

10030916

Om Group of Institution,

S/o Bharat Bhushan

12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan,

Chabbra

Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

6.

Ritesh Tiwari S/o Rajesh Tiwari

10047958

St. Vishna RRN School, Block A, 78C ADA Colony, Near Water Tank, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh – 211011.

7.

Anubhava Dwivedi

10034983

Patiala Institute of Engineering

S/o Ramakant

and Technology for Women

Dwivedi

12 Km Stone, Patiala-Sirhind Road, Patiala, Punjab – 147004

8.

Priya

10023802

S/o Sher Singh

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

9.

Shifa Verma

10032131

D/o Dara Singh

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

10.

Sukhanpreet Singh

10033602

S/o Sarbjeet Singh

Chandigarh University Kharar Ludhiana Highway, Gharuan, Mohali, Punjab – 140413.

11.

Shivam

10021289

S/o Ranbir

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

12.

Saksham Sehgal

10053562

Manav Institute of Technology

S/o Mahendra K.

and Management

Sehgal

V.P.O. Jevera, Barwala Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125121

13.

Ruby D/o Shishpal

10049052

Manav Institute of Technology and Management

V.P.O. Jevera, Barwala Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125121

14.

Jyoti Rani

10054589

D/o Ran Singh

Manav Institute of Technology and Management V.P.O. Jevera, Barwala Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125121

15.

Muskan,

10046583

D/o Surender

Manav Institute of Technology and Management V.P.O. Jevera, Barwala Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125121

16.

Drishika Singh

10008183

Fringe Institute of Advanced

Sangwan

Studies

D/o Vinod Kumar

234, Budhpur, G.T. Karnal Road, Near Jain Mandir, New Delhi – 110036.

17.

Vaibhav Jalan

10025164

Abhinav Public School

S/o Vinod Kumar

CU Block, Block F 1U, Uttar

Jalan

Pitampura, Near Power Station, New Delhi – 110088.

18.

Om Prakash Singh

10022070

S/o Arjun Kumar

RSP Online Data Processing and Infosystem Pvt. Ltd. Khashra No. 241, Budhpur Village, GT Karnal Road, Near Jain Mandir, New Delhi – 110036.

19.

Anurag Singh S/o Jaipan Singh

10004162

RR Assesment Center Z36, 2nd Floor, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase 2, New

Delhi – 110020.

20.

Monalisha

10023044

Abhinav Public School

D/o Kamal Nath

CU Block, Block F 1U, Uttar

Prasad

Pitampura, Near Power Station, New Delhi – 110088.

21.

Hansika Pandey

10018796

SRS Online and IT Solutions

D/o Mahendra

Alam Nagar Road, near State

Kumar Pandey

Bank of India, Luckhnow, Uttar Pradesh – 226017

22.

Muskaan Vijay

10021997

D/o Vijay Kumar

RSP Online Data Processing and Infosystem Pvt. Ltd. Khashra No. 241, Budhpur Village, GT Karnal Road, Near Jain Mandir, New Delhi – 110036.

23.

Jyotsana Seth

10004707

Master Consultancy Services

D/o Kamal Shekhar

Vigyan Khand, Gomti Nagar,

Gupta

Bharwara Crossing, Near Spring Dale School, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh – 228010

24.

Yukta

10022314

D/o Vinod Rawat

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

25.

Mayank Grewal S/o Rajesh Grewal

10034097

Om Group of Institution, 12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan, Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana – 125001

26.

Jyoti Sharma D/o Suresh Sharma

27.

Rachit Agrawal

10020321

S/o S. K. Agrawal

Vedant Info System OCP Pvt. Ltd. 356/265 Alamnagar Road, Lucknow, U.P. – 226010

28.

Mohd Haider Zaidi

10031280

S/o Aziz Ahmed Zaidi

RK Educational Institute 41-C Rail Vihar, Near Corporation Bank, Lucknow, U.P. – 226028

29.

Shubham Gupta

10001692

Om Group of Institution,

S/o Rakesh Kumar

12 Km Stone, VPO Juglan,

Gupta

Hisar-Chandigarh Road, Hisar, Haryana - 125001

[A True Copy of the Admit Card issued to Petitioner No. 1 to 25 by Respondent No. 3 and 4 for appearing in CLAT 2018 are attached herein and marked as Annexure P-1 at Pgs. 5.

to

.]

That the Respondent No. 1 is the Secretary, Ministry of Human

Resource

Development,

Union

of

India.

Respondent No. 2 is the Vice-Chancellor of National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi which is the organizing University that was responsible for conducting CLAT 2018 examination. Respondent No. 3 is the CLAT 2018 Core Committee represented by its Convener being Prof. (Dr.) Rose Verghese, the ViceChancellor of NUALS, Kochi. Respondent No. 4 is the

CLAT 2018 Implementation Committee represented by its Chairman being Prof. (Dr.) Rose Verghese, the ViceChancellor of NUALS, Kochi. That the Respondent Nos. 1 to 4 herein are ‘State’, ‘authority’ or its instrumentalities within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India amenable to the jurisdiction of this Hon’ble Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. 6.

i.

BACKGROUND FACTS That Pursuant to the recommendation of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council of India (‘BCI’), India’s first autonomous institute for legal education was established by the State of Karnataka and was named as the National Law School of India University (“NLSIU”) under the Karnataka Act No. 22 of 1986. Subsequently, numerous

such

national

law

universities

were

established in other states to promote legal education. As of date there are twenty such statutory National Law Universities that have been established across India.

ii.

That admission to the various degree courses offered by these National Law Universities was done by way of conducting

a

merit

based

entrance

examination.

However, till the year 2007, each of these National Law Universities would organize and conduct a separate entrance examination for the purpose of admissions to

the degree courses offered by them. This resulted in great hardship to the aspirant students and this grievance was finally brought to this Hon’ble Court’s attention in W.P.(C) No. 68 of 2006 in Varun Bhagat v. Union of India, wherein this Hon’ble Court recommended the formulation of a student friendly method of selecting the most promising candidates through a common entrance examination for the purpose of admissions to the various National Law Universities.

iii.

That pursuant to this Hon’ble Court’s Orders, the ViceChancellors of the first seven National Law Universities to be established in India, namely, National Law School of India University(“NLSIU”), National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (“NALSAR”), National Law Institute University (“NLIU”), National University of Juridical Studies (“NUJS”), National Law University Jodhpur (“NLUJ”), Hidayatullah National Law University (“HNLU”) and Gandhinagar National Law University (“GNLU”) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) dated 23.11.2007 for conducting a common entrance test for admission to the Five Year Integrated law degree programme being conducted by each university. The Common entrance exam would be called the ‘Common Law Admission Test’ (“CLAT”). Further, it was also undertaken that CLAT shall be organized and conducted on a rotation basis by each of the participating National

Law Universities every year beginning with the oldest of them. Therefore,

the

first

CLAT

examination

was

conducted in the year 2008 and was organised by NLSIU, by NALSAR in 2009, by NLIU in 2010, by NUJS in 2011, by NLUJ in 2012 and so on and so forth.

iv.

In 2014, the MoU was superseded by a new MoU dated 01.11.2014, whereby the total of 16 National Law Universities as had come into existence at the point of time signed the new MoU and became participating National Law Universities for the purpose of conducting CLAT every year. That subsequently three more National Law

Universities

i.e.

Maharashtra

National

Law

University, Mumbai (“MNLU-M”), Maharashtra National Law University – Aurangabad (“MNLU-A”) and National Law University (NLU-Nagpur) have also been included as participating in CLAT.

v.

That from its inception in 2008 till the 2014 edition, CLAT was conducted in a traditional offline exam format across

various

examination

centres

across

India.

However, on 02.11.2014, the Vice Chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (“RMLNLU”), the Organizing University for CLAT-2015, announced that the CLAT Core Committee had taken and approved a decision to conduct the CLAT Exam for the year 2015 in an Online Test format whereby the students appearing

for the exam would attempt their question paper on a Computer

based

testing

format.

Since

then

all

subsequent editions of CLAT have been conducted in the online format.

vi.

As per the rotation policy for organizing CLAT, The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi (“NUALS”) (“Respondent No. 2”) became the organizing University for CLAT – 2018. Further, Prof. (Dr). Rose Varghese (Vice-Chancellor, NUALS) became the Convenor of the CLAT 2018 Core Committee (“Respondent No. 3”) and

Chairman

of the

CLAT

2018

Implementation

Committee. (“Respondent No.4”).

vii.

That

Respondent

No.2,

vide

Notification

dated

20.12.2017 invited applications for admission to the under-graduate and post-graduate degree programmes in law in the nineteen National Law Universities in India. It was also notified that the date of commencement of submission of Online Application was 01.01.2018 and the last date for submission was fixed for 31.03.2018. The date of CLAT 2018 Online Examination was notified as being 13.05.2018. [A True Copy of the Notification for Common Law Admission

Test (CLAT)

2018

dated

20.12.2017

is

attached herein and marked as Annexure P-2 at Pgs. To

.]

viii.

That as per the notified date, on 01.01.2018, the Online CLAT portal started to accept applications of students for the Under-Graduate and Post-Graduate courses of Law. the Petitioner(s) herein successfully submitted their Application to appear for the Under-Graduate edition of CLAT-2018 within the stipulated time and also deposited their Application Fees of Rupees Four Thousand (4000) each as had been decided by Respondent No.2. It must be brought to this Hon’ble Court’s notice that as compared applying

to to

CLAT-2018, the the

Joint

Application Fees

Entrance

Exam

(JEE)

for for

Engineering is only Rupees One Thousand (1000) and the Application Fees for applying to the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical is Rupees One Thousand Five Hundred (1500).

ix.

That as per the Calendar released by Respondent No. 3 and 4 on the CLAT website (“www.clat.ac.in”), the scheduled date for commencement of downloading of Admit Cards/Hall Tickets was 20.04.2018. But on 20.04.2018, the Respondent No. 3 and 4 announced through the CLAT website that owing to some technical reasons, the downloading of Admit Card will commence only from April 26, 2018. It must be noted that this was one

of

the

first

instances

which

hinted

at

the

inconveniences being faced by the students on account of the lack of proper implementation and execution of the CLAT Online Exam process by Respondent No. 3 and 4.

x.

On 26.04.2018, the Petitioners herein and all the other candidates appearing for CLAT 2018 downloaded their Admit

Cards

which

contained

the

details

of

the

Examination Centre and included the Test Centre City and the Address of the Centre and the Details of the Candidates. It must be noted that a document titled ‘Candidate Instruction Sheet’ was provided along with the Admit Card to the Candidates. On a perusal of the instructions therein, the Petitioners were shocked to find that the interface of the testing software had been completely changed from the interface that was being used for all previous editions of CLAT Exam when it was converted into a Online Testing Format in the year 2015. [A True Copy of the News Report titled, “User-Unfriendly CLAT 2018 exam interface lands shortly before this weekend’s exam, candidates baffled.” Dated 11.05.2018 and published by Legallyindia.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-3 at Pgs.

To

.]

[A True Copy of the Exam Instructions issued for candidates participating in CLAT-2018 titled “Candidate Instruction Sheet” dated 26.04.2018 is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-4 at Pgs.

To

.]

xi.

It must be noted that these changes in the Interface were not in the nature of mere cosmetic changes but included important structural changes to the process through which a candidate is supposed to interact with the testing software. It must be noted that these instructions and consequent changes to the interface were released by Respondent No. 3 and 4 and brought to the Candidate’s attention on 26.04.2018 which is mere 16 days before the CLAT-2018 was scheduled to take place.

xii.

That by arbitrarily changing the interface of the testing platform without a prior notice to the candidates within a reasonable period of time and merely 16 days before the scheduled exam date, Respondent No. 3 and 4 have severely prejudiced the Petitioners and other candidates appearing for CLAT – 2018, who have spent considerable period of time, (that is, more than one to two years in most cases) to prepare for the test and who have put in dedicated and sincere efforts in preparing and training themselves to attempt the exam based on the old test interface followed for conducting the CLAT since its first Online edition held in the year 2015.

xiii.

That the aforesaid event was the second instance which bore testimony to the callous attitude of Respondent No. 3 and 4 in conducting CLAT – 2018 and the arbitrary manner in which decisions were being taken and

implemented by them. The resultant prejudice, anxiety and hardship

caused

to

the

candidates

who

are

unaccustomed to the use of computers for giving tests and who had been sincerely practicing on the old test interface with a legitimate hope and expectation that it will

not

be

changed

in

the

eleventh

hour,

is

unquantifiable and patently unjust.

xiv.

That after preparing for a very limited and short period of time for giving the Test in the new format/interface, on 13.05.2018, the Petitioners appeared for the CLAT 2018 Examination at their respective Exam Centres at the scheduled time. That As per the instructions issued by Respondent No.3 and 4,- (i)CLAT-2018 would be an online examination, the duration of which would be of 2 Hours i.e. 120 minutes sharp and the exam would be conducted from 3.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M. (ii)It was specifically mentioned that ONLY Specially Abled Persons (SAP) would be entitled to 40 minutes of extra time. (iii)There would be total number of 200 questions in the exam. It is relevant to note here that therefore a candidate would effectively have 120 minutes to answer 200 questions, i.e. only 0.6 minutes or 36 seconds to answer each question.

xv.

That when the Petitioners appeared for their exams, the Petitioners faced a great amount of difficulties and

problems at the exam centre. These difficulties can be described by putting them in two categories i.e. (i) Technical Issues and (ii) Gross mismanagement. The difficulties faced by the Petitioners are described as follows: (i)Technical Issues:

xvi.

When the Petitioners began attempting the exam, they discovered that the testing software being used for conducting the Online Exam was replete with errors and technical problems which led to a substantial loss of time and

hardship

for

the

Petitioners.

The

Petitioners

discovered that the software was extremely unresponsive and would lag in its response to the inputs made by the Petitioners. The Testing software would freeze after short intervals of time automatically and randomly in some cases and in other cases would freeze on any input made by the appearing Candidate. That as a result of these technical issues, the Petitioners faced anxiety and their attention

was

constantly

distracted

by

the

malfunctioning software, which resulted in disturbing their focus which was required to effectively take the exam. As a result the Petitioners could not focus on their exam and were not able to attempt the exam to the extent of their full capabilities.

xvii.

Further, due to the constant malfunction of the test software, several

candidates

invigilators-on-duty conspicuously

for

unable

to

a

were

approaching

solution,

handle

and

who

the were

resolve

the

Candidate’s grievances. This resulted in a situation where either the Invigilator lost their temper and ignored the Candidate’s complaints or the Candidates who faced issues with their computers were allotted alternate computers in the same room or were sent to a separate Room to attempt their exam. Thus, different candidates were given different options in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner.

This

was

specifically

prohibited

by

the

Instructions issued by Respondent No. 3 and 4 vide General Instruction No. 18 in the “Candidate Instruction Sheet”.

xviii.

This resulted in two specific prejudices against the Petitioners – First, the inability of the Invigilators to address

the

Candidates

grievances

resulted

in

a

commotion inside the exam room as a result of which the Petitioners were constantly distracted and could not attempt the Exam with their full attention and capability. Second, the ad hoc and arbitrary manner of allocation of alternate computers and shifting of rooms resulted in a disadvantage to the Petitioners who were facing a

genuine issue of a malfunctioning computer but were still not allotted an alternate computer.

xix.

That as a result of the malfunctioning and freezing, defreezing of the test software, the distraction caused by commotion inside the exam room, severe disturbance in the attention and focus of the candidates and the constant shuffling of the students to alternate computers and even other exam rooms in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner resulted in the wastage of their precious time that could otherwise have been devoted to effectively solving questions in the Question Paper. The fact that a candidate had only 36 seconds to solve a question which fetched him One(1) Mark and that a one mark difference in the score of two candidates decides as to which of them

gets

admitted

to

a

particular National

Law

University underscores the severity and magnitude of injustice caused to the Petitioners on account of the mismanagement and the arbitrary and unfair methods employed

by

the

invigilators

and

the

failure

of

Respondents No. 3 and 4 to ensure a smooth and errorfree testing software and trained invigilators while conducting the exam.

xx.

However, It must be noted that apart from issues mentioned above, the two incidents that took place commonly across exam centres allotted to the Petitioners,

which raises serious and pertinent questions on the fairness and sanctity of the results of CLAT-2018 occurred as follows:

xxi.

First, when the Computer would de-freeze or the Software would restart, it gave the Candidate two options i.e. (a) Start the Exam and (b) Restart the Exam. On choosing the option ‘Start the Exam’, the testing software would provide the Candidate an opportunity to attempt the entire Question Paper again with the timer reset at Two Hours. As a result, several of the appearing Candidates would dishonestly avail extra time using this method when their Computers froze and de-froze while the Petitioners and other honest Candidates earnestly awaited the Invigilators to provide them with a solution. As a result of this, such dishonest Candidates were able to re-read and attempt their Question Paper without any bar on the time or duration of the exam. When this fact was brought to the attention of the Invigilators by the Petitioner and other honest candidates, the invigilators, who were themselves confused at the commotion, would either lose their temper and threaten the Petitioners and other students to suppress their protests or ignore them under the garb of solving technical issues taking place inside the exam centre. That meanwhile, the dishonest Candidates continued to choose the “start the exam” option and re-attempted their exam with a reset Timer of

two Hours using the aforementioned loophole. That as a result of this issue, several dishonest Candidates took advantage of the loophole and were able to re-attempt their exam multiple times and as a result had the unfair and unjust advantage of solving a question over an extended period of time by resetting the timer each time the Computer froze and hence increasing their accuracy as compared to a Honest Candidate.

xxii.

The second incident which also occurred commonly across exams centres allocated to the Petitioners was the use of unfair means during the Examination. It was widely observed that when the above mentioned technical issues took place and in the consequent commotion that was being caused inside the exam rooms, the invigilators failed to maintain discipline and decorum in the exam room and as a result various dishonest Candidates resorted to cheating by copying answers from their neighbouring candidates/friends or by conspiring with their

friends/other

dishonest

candidates

to

solve

separate Questions in parallel on their own separate computers and then tallying the answers with each other. This enabled them to save the time required to attempt each question and as a result more time could be devoted by one candidate to solve a question and then exchange the answer with the other dishonest candidate. As a

result, the dishonest candidates indulging in such use of unfair means during the exam gave them an unfair and unjust advantage over the Petitioners/other honest Candidates. Further, as a result of the commotion, there was open discussion in the exam room amongst the candidates wherein answers were being discussed. Such discussion was clearly audible to the invigilators and yet the same failed to take any action against the errant candidates and turned a deaf ear to the complaints of other candidates about such mass cheating. The use of such unfair means and the failure of invigilators in maintaining discipline and decorum in the exam rooms raises serious questions on the fairness and sanctity of the final scores of CLAT-2018 which shall be used to calculate the Merit based Rank List.

xxiii.

Thus, in light of of the aforementioned incidents, the marks scored by all the Candidates are itself erroneous and therefore any Merit based Rank List that is prepared from such a compromised and corrupted exam score would be patently wrong and unjust and would not be a reflection of the merit of the selected candidates.. (ii) Gross Mismanagement:

xxiv.

It must be noted that the adverse effects of the aforementioned issues could have been mitigated to some

extent had there been effective and trained invigilators present inside the Rooms where the exam was being conducted. However, the Petitioners, to their shock discovered

that

the

Invigilators

were

completely

untrained, incapable and unable to handle the grievances that were raised by the Candidates. That the Invigilators failed to maintain calm and decorum in the exam room and in the resultant commotion various candidates could be

seen

resorting

to

unfair

means.

Further,

the

invigilators also behaved in a preferential, arbitrary and ad

hoc

manner while

attempting

to

address

the

Petitioner’s grievances. For instance, the Petitioners appearing at an exam centre in Hisar observed that a few candidates attempted the exam till as late as 7.30 P.M. whereas the scheduled duration of the exam was 3.00 P.M. to 5 P.M. A video clip to the above effect is available which can be produced with the leave of this Court. In many centres, candidates were allowed to re-enter the examination centre and ‘complete their tests’. This was a clear violation of General Instruction No. 18 of the “Candidate Instruction Sheet”. In other centres, when technical issues took place, the invigilators promised to grant extended time at the end of the exam but the either the same was denied to the Petitioners in some centres and in other centres students were arbitrarily given extra time as was the case in Hisar.

xxv.

It must be also be noted that while General Instruction No. 21 of the Candidate Instruction Sheet mandated that all exam rooms were to be under constant surveillance of CCTV cameras, it was observed by the Petitioners in several exam rooms that the CCTV cameras were either turned away and facing towards the Wall or their wires were disconnected and wrapped around the CCTV cameras. As a result, there was gross mismanagement in the manner in which the exam was conducted that has caused gross prejudice to the Petitioners and other candidates and prevented them from attempting their exam to the best of their capabilities.

xxvi.

That aggrieved by the events that transpired in the exam centre, the Petitioners herein and other candidates who were allotted the “OM Group of Institutions” in Hisar, proceeded to file a written complaint with the S.H.O at Police Station, Sadar Hisar and reported the incidents that took place inside the exam centre. It has come to the Petitioners’

knowledge

that

several

similar

police

complaints were filed against the conduct of CLAT 2018 by aggrieved candidates across the country. [A True and Typed Copy of the Complaint dated 13.05.2018 is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-5 at Pgs.

To

.]

xxvii.

Technical and Infrastructural errors and the gross mismanagement of the examination across centers led to public outcry. Various newspapers, portals and blogs (namely, Indian Express, Times of India, Lawctopus, Legally India etc.), reported the various problems faced by the students, some of which were:  Wrongly/insufficiently named examination centers  Power cuts,  System failures,  Failure of log-in system,  Lapses in biometric verification system,  Blank screens,  Questions not appearing on the screen,  Computers

hanging,

mouse

&

keyboard

not

functioning,  Answers not getting saved despite following the

prescribed instructions,  ‘Next

Question’

option

taking

the

student

3

questions forward without saving answers,  Timer not stopping despite system hang,  ‘Submit Your Exam’ option not working,  ‘Practice test’ skipped at centres running late  Infrastructural issues such as Air-conditioners not

working, non availability of pen and paper, no proper seating arrangement etc.

In addition to this the invigilators at these centres were not trained/equipped to deal with the issues and hence were unable to answer/resolve any of the queries raised by the students. [A True Copy of the News Report titled, “CLAT 2018 faces technical glitches, mismanagement; students rate paper easy” dated 13.05.2018 and updated on 16.05.2018 published by the Indian Express is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-6 at Pgs.

To

.]

[A True Copy of the News Report titled, “Technical glitches mar conduct of CLAT 2018 across country” dated 13.05.2018 published by BarandBench.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-7

at Pgs.

To

.] [A

True

Copy

of

the

News

Report

titled,

“PCs

Malfunctioning & Shutting Down; Exam Starting Hours Late; Students Losing Out 10-15 Minutes: CLAT 2018 Sees It All!” dated 14.05.2018 published by LiveLaw.in is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-8 To

at Pgs.

.]

[A True Copy of the News Report titled, “CLAT 2018 mismanaged, Calls for Retest echo nationally” dated 14.05.2018

published

by the

youthkiawaaz.com

attached herein and marked as Annexure P-9 To

.]

is

at Pgs.

[A True Copy of the News Report titled, “CLAT Students finds maths tricky, GK easy” dated 14.05.2018 published by the Times of India is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-10

at Pgs.

To

.]

[A True Copy of the News Report titled, “CLAT 2018: Students face glitches, power cuts & loss of time” dated 14.05.2018 published by the Shiksha.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-11 at Pgs.

To

.] [A True Copy of the News Report titled, “Tip of CLAT 2018 iceberg keeps growing: At least 1,800 students have serious complaints” dated 15.05.2018 published by the legallyindia.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-12 at Pgs.

To

.]

[A True Copy of the Blog titled, “CLAT 2018: What happened during and after the examination” dated 18.05.2018 authored by an anonymous CLAT candidate and published by the blogs.timesofindia.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-13

at Pgs.

To

.]

xxviii.

An

interview

of the Convenor of the

CLAT

Core

Committee, Vice Chancellor of the Respondent University was

published

by

a

website

named

‘www.legallyindia.com’ wherein the Vice-Chancellor of Respondent No.2

stated that examinations at 90%

centres went smooth and further that at 1.5% centres computers failed. The said admitted figures itself portray that large number of students faced computer failures and technical difficulties which led to denial of a fair and equal opportunity to these students thereby rendering the entire merit list erroneous, unfair and unjust which can only be remedied by conducting the examination again in a proper and fair manner. [A True Copy of the News Report titled, “CLAT 2018 was 98.5% smooth, says Nuals Kochi, promises to investigate, but many of 59,300+ candidates faced problems, some filed police complaints” dated 14.05.2018 published by the Legallyindia.com is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-14 at Pgs.

xxix.

To

.]

In the days following the date of CLAT-2018, students from across the country started sharing their illexperiences on various online platforms and social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter etc. and mass discussions ensued wherein thousands of students expressed

their

grievances

about

the

gross

mismanagement of the examination. The situation clearly points out that the examination was flawed with major technical issues across centres and that if students are given admissions on the basis of the results of this grossly mismanaged examination, it will lead to gross

injustice to the candidates and create a non-meritorious list defeating the very purpose of the examination.

xxx.

That it must be brought to this Hon’ble Court’s attention that CLAT-2018 was conducted by Respondent No. 3 and 4 with the aid of M/s Sify Technologies Ltd. (Respondent No. 5 herein). Sify Technologies Ltd. also partners with the Staff Selection Commission(‘SSC’) for organising Online Entrance tests. However, in the recent past SIFY has

been

embroiled

with

charges

of

corruption,

mismanagement and technical issues related to entrance tests conducted by it for SSC. That Sify Technologies Ltd. has been directly implicated in the question paper leak of a graduate-level exam conducted by the SSC. According to

a

recent news

report, the

Central

Bureau of

Investigation registered FIRs against ten employees of Sify Technologies Ltd. in connection with the question paper

leak

incident.

Further,

The

CBI

conducted

searches at Sify Technologies’ offices in Chennai, Noida, Mumbai and Delhi, and eight other locations. The agency also searched the house of the custodian of the question bank appointed by Sify while the other nine employees were site managers at examination centres where the leaked paper had reached. The above facts raise serious questions against the competence and ability of M/s SIfy Technologies Ltd. to be able to conduct an all India Level

entrance

test

exam

in

a smooth, fair, just and

transparent manner. [True Copy of the News Report titled, “SSC paper leak case: CBI questions Sify COO” dated 25.05.2018 and published by The Hindu is attached herein and annexed as Annexure P-15 at Pgs.

To

.]

[True Copy of the News Report titled, “SSC paper leak: CBI books 10 employees of Sify Technologies, seven students” dated 23.05.2018 and published by Scroll.in is attached herein and annexed as Annexure P-16 at Pgs. To

xxxi.

.]

That Various Complaints and Writ Petitions were filed by the aggrieved students before the Hon’ble High Courts of Rajasthan,

Punjab

&

Haryana,

Madhya

Pradesh,

Karnataka, Delhi and Calcutta pointing out the technical glitches, system failures, infrastructural lapses and overall mismanagement of the examination. The very fact that such a large number of students have reportedly faced such issues makes it evident that the examination has

been

conducted

in

a

unprofessional,

unjust,

unreasonable and careless manner putting the future of thousands of students

in

the

abyss. Such

gross

mismanagement can only be rectified by conducting a reexamination and ensuring that it is conducted in a smooth and fair manner to arrive at a merit list reflective of the true rank of the candidates..

xxxii.

That Writ Petition (Civil) No. 551/2018 was filed by students

hailing

from

different

states

(Delhi,

Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh) before the this Hon’ble Court, pointing out the mass outcry and aftermath of the grossly mismanaged examination, praying for quashing the same, conducting fresh examination, staying the publishing of result and appointing a committee to look into the issues. This Hon’ble Court during hearing the abovementioned Writ Petition directed that no High Courts shall proceed with the hearing of the proceedings in Petitions regarding CLAT 2018 till further orders. That on 25.05.2018, this Hon’ble Court allowed the proposal submitted by the Respondent No. 2 and appointed a Grievance Redressal committee, which shall look into each complaint on a case to case basis and submit a report before the Court. [A True copy of this Hon’ble Court’s Order dated 25.05.2018 in Disha Panchal and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. in W.P.(C) No. 551/2018 is attached herein and marked as Annexure P-17 at Pgs.

xxxiii.

to

.]

It is pertinent to note that the effect of such gross mismanagement, improper and unfair conduct of the examination is not limited to personal grievances of various Petitioners and complainants, rather it has led to

defeating the very purpose of conducting the examination which is to create a pool of meritorious students to be eligible for admissions in the participating universities. The very fact that some students have taken the examination in a smooth manner, whereas some have faced numerous issues resulting in wastage of time varying from 3 to even 30 minutes due to no fault of theirs bears testimony to the unjust and unfair manner in which the exam was conducted. Further, reports have come up regarding the fact that at certain centres the examination was conducted till 8 P.M. instead of scheduled time of 5 P.M., various reports of cheating, time issues, system failures, timer issues, technical glitches,

infrastructural

problems,

incompetent

invigilators clearly portrays that the examination has been conducted in a unjust and discriminatory manner and based on the results of such an examination, a correct and true list of meritorious students cannot be created in any stretch of imagination.

xxxiv.

Therefore, the only remedy to address this fiasco is reconducting of the examination in a smooth, just and fair manner as a solution for the problems faced by the students across the country and any other mode of remedying the same would inevitably lead to injustice..

7.

It is submitted that the Petitioners herein are in possession of electronic evidence in form of videos wherein live instances of flagrant violation of the Rules of conduct of CLAT 2018 can be seen to take place. That on leave of this Court, the same shall be filed for this Hon’ble Court’s perusal and record.

8.

It is also submitted that pursuant to this Hon’ble Court’s Order dated 25.05.2018 in W.P.(C) No. 551 of 2018 in Disha Panchal & Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., the Petitioners herein have also made representations to the Grievance Redressal Committee constituted by Respondent No. 3 and 4. However, without prejudice to the above it is humbly submitted that any action taken by the Grievance Redressal Committee cannot address or remedy the wrong sought to be corrected by way of this present writ petition.

9.

GROUNDS That the present writ petition is being filed on the following grounds which are in the alternative and without prejudice to one another: A.

Because the actions of Respondents No. 2 to 4 has resulted in gross violations of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the Petitioners under Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India which seriously prejudice the Petitioners’ hard earned prospects of

studying law

at

the

premier institutions

of legal

education in our Country. B.

Because the arbitrary and unreasonable manner in which the entrance exam has been conducted violates the provisions of Article 14 and also impinges upon notions of equality as enshrined in the Constitution.

C.

Because the technological glitches and the loopholes has led to a situation where dishonest candidates who have taken advantage of the glitches and re-attempted their entire exam, which ought to have been a 2 hour long paper, have obtained an unfair advantage over the honest candidates who have not adopted such unfair means and since there was no level playing field in conducting the competitive entrance exam, the entire process of selection of candidates based on merit stands vitiated. The above has led to creation of two impermissible classes of candidates which bears no reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. selection of meritorious candidates to the top national law schools.

D.

Because professional legal education is a gateway to a professional legal career which has been seriously infringed upon by the manner in which the exam has been conducted ridden with technical glitches and adoption of unfair means on account of the technological loopholesleading to an infringement of the petitioners’ right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

E.

Because the interface of the test software had been completely changed from the interface that was being used for all previous editions of CLAT Exam when it was converted into an Online Testing Format in the year 2015. These changes in the Interface included important structural changes to the process through which a candidate is supposed to interact with the testing software. The changes to the interface were released by Respondent No. 3 and 4 and brought to the Candidate’s attention on 26.04.2018 which is mere 16 days before the CLAT-2018 exam was scheduled to take place, thus causing severe prejudice to the Petitioners herein.

F.

Because by arbitrarily changing the Interface of the testing platform without a reasonable notice period and just 16 days before the scheduled exam date, Respondent No. 3 and 4 have severely prejudiced the Petitioners and other candidates appearing for CLAT – 2018, most of whom

had

spent

considerable

period

of

time

in

preparations for over one to two years and put in dedicated and sincere efforts in preparing for CLAT-2018 and trained themselves to attempt the exam based on the old testing Interface followed for conducting the CLAT Examinations since the first Online Edition of the CLAT Exam held in the year 2015. G.

Because the arbitrary change in Interface with a short notice of 16 days adversely effects the hard work and

thorough preparation of the Candidates and the amount of hardship and anxiety caused to Candidates who are uncomfortable or unaccustomed to the use of computers in giving exams and who therefore had been sincerely practicing on the old testing interface is unquantifiable and patently unjust. H.

Because the “Candidate Instruction Sheet” issued by Respondent No. 3 specifically mentioned that ONLY Specially Abled Persons (SAP) would be entitled to 40 minutes of extra time. The arbitrary allocation extra time on an ad-hoc basis to all categories of candidates, in a patently unfair and discriminatory manner, violates the fundamental right of the Petitioner guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

I.

Because as a result of serious technical issues, the Petitioners

faced

anxiety

and

their

attention

was

constantly distracted by the malfunctioning software. As a result the Petitioners could not focus on their exam and were not able to attempt the exam to the extent of their full capabilities. J.

Because the inability of the Invigilators to address the Candidate’s grievances resulted in a commotion inside the exam room as a result of which some of the Petitioners were constantly distracted and could not attempt the Exam with their full attention and capability.

K.

Because the ad hoc and arbitrary manner of allocation of alternate computers and shifting of rooms resulted in a disadvantage to the Petitioners who were facing a genuine issue of a malfunctioning computer but were still not allotted an alternate computer.

L.

Because as a result of these malfunctions, freezing-defreezing of the testing software, distraction by commotion caused inside the exam room, break of attention and focus of Candidates and the constant shuffling of students to alternate computers and even other exam rooms in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner resulted in the wastage of precious time that could otherwise have been devoted to solving questions in the Question Paper. The fact that a candidate had 36 seconds to solve a question which can fetch him One(1) Mark in the Result and that a one mark difference in the score of two candidates can decide as to which of them gets admitted to a particular National Law University underscores the severity and magnitude of injustice caused to the Petitioners by the loss of time on account of the mismanagement, arbitrary and unfair methods employed by the invigilators and the failure of Respondents No. 3 and 4 to ensure a smooth and error-free testing software and trained invigilators to guide Candidates while conducting the exam.

M.

Because the examination was not conducted in an uniform manner as the students were allotted different

time periods to attempt the same number of questions without any rationale or intelligible differentia. N.

Because several dishonest Candidates took advantage of a loophole in the Testing Software and were able to reattempt their exam multiple times and as a result had the unfair and unjust advantage of solving a question over an extended period of time by resetting the timer each time the Computer froze and hence increasing their accuracy as compared to a honest Candidate. Thus if the final merit list is allowed to be drawn based on this examination conducted in such an unfair manner, the Petitioner’s right under Article 14 of the Constitution would be grossly violated.

O.

Because the use of unfair means by dishonest candidates indulging gave them an unfair and unjust advantage over the Petitioners/other honest Candidates. The use of such unfair

means

and

the

failure

of

invigilators

in

maintaining discipline and decorum in the exam rooms raises serious questions on the fairness and sanctity of the final scores of CLAT-2018 which shall be used to calculate the Merit based Rank List. P.

Because the aforementioned incidents establish that the exam scores awarded to the Candidates are itself compromised and erroneous and therefore any Merit based

Rank

List

that

is

prepared

from

such

a

compromised and corrupted exam score is patently unmeritorious and unjust. Q.

Because CLAT 2018 was conducted by Respondent No. 3 and 4 with the aid of M/s Sify Technologies (“Respondent No. 5”) and in the recent past SIFY has been embroiled in charges of corruption, mismanagement and technical issues related to entrance tests conducted by it for SSC which raises serious questions about the competence and ability of the said respondent to be able to conduct an all India Level entrance test exam in a smooth, fair, just and transparent manner.

R.

Because in the case of Tanvi Sarwal v. CBSE and Ors., [2015] 6 SCC 573, wherein the results of the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test, 2015 were irreversibly vitiated by the discovery of use of unfair means and malpractices through the use of electronic gadgets, this Hon’ble Court rejected the argument of CBSE that pending the completion of investigation, and identification of the beneficiaries of such malpractice, necessary action may be permitted to be taken against those already identified only and that the examination as a whole ought not to be scrapped in the interest of other students. This Hon’ble Court while annulling the exam proceeded to hold as follows:

“18. As has been noticed hereinabove, the disclosures in the investigation suggest that the benefit of answer key has been availed by

several candidates taking the examination, by illegal means. Though as on date, 44 such candidates have been identified, having regard to the modus operandi put in place, the numbers of cellphones and other devices used, it is not unlikely that many more candidates have availed such undue advantage, being a part of the overall design and in the process have been unduly benefited qua the other students who had made sincere and genuine endeavours to solve the answer paper on the basis of their devoted preparation and hard labour. In view of the widespread network, that has operated, as the status reports disclose and the admission of the persons arrested including some beneficiary candidates, we are of the opinion, in view of the strong possibilities of identification of other candidates as well involved in such malpractices, that the examination has become a suspect. As it is, the system of examination pursued over the decades, has been accepted by all who are rational, responsible and sensible, to be an accredited one, for comparative evaluation of the merit and worth of candidates vying for higher academic pursuits. It is thus necessary, for all the role players in the process, to secure and sustain the confidence of the public in general and the student fraternity in particular in the system by its unquestionable trustworthiness. Such a system is endorsed because of its credibility informed with guarantee of fairness, transparency, authenticity and sanctity. There cannot be any compromise with these imperatives at any cost. 19. Segregation only of the already 44 identified candidates stated to be the beneficiaries of the unprincipled manoeuvre by withholding their results for the time being, in our comprehension cannot be the solution to the problem that confronts all of us. Not only thereby, if the process is allowed to advance, it would be pushed to a vortex of litigation

pertaining thereto in the foreseeable future, the prospects of the candidates would not only remain uncertain and tentative, they would also remain plagued with the prolonged anguish and anxiety if involved in the ordeal of court cases. Acting on this option, would in our estimate, amount to driving knowingly the students, who are not at fault, to an uncertain future with their academic career in jeopardy on many counts. Further, there would also be a lurking possibility of unidentified beneficiary candidates stealing a march over them, on the basis of the advantages availed by them through the underhand dealings as revealed. Having regard to the fact, that the course involved with time would yield the future generations of doctors of the country, who would be in charge of public health, their inherent merit to qualify for taking the course can by no means be compromised. 20. As would be available from the status reports, out of 123 solved answers of a particular code and retrieved from the mobile set of one of the persons arrested i.e. Dr Bhupender, 102 answers were found correct on a comparison with the answer key provided by CBSE. As referred to hereinabove, 358 mobile numbers had been pressed into service and at least 300 vests fitted with electronic devices have been used. Having regard to the uncompromising essentiality of a blemishless process of examination involving public participation, we have no alternative but to hold that the examination involved, suffers from an infraction of its expected requirement of authenticity and credence. We are conscious of the fact that every examination being conducted by a human agency is likely to suffer from some shortcomings, but deliberate inroads into its framework of the magnitude and the nature, as exhibited, in the present case, demonstrate a deep-seated and pervasive impact, which ought not to be disregarded or glossed over, lest it may amount to travesty of

a proclaimed mechanism to impartially judge the comparative merit of the candidates partaking therein. If such an examination is saved, merit would be a casualty generating a sense of frustration in the genuine students, with aversion to the concept of examination. The possibility of leaning towards unfair means may also be the ultimate fallout. Even if, one undeserving candidate, a beneficiary of such illegal machination, though undetected is retained in the process it would be in denial of the claim of more deserving candidates. At present, the examination stands denuded of its sanctity as it is not possible to be cleansed of all the participating beneficiary candidates with certainty. We are thus, on an overall assessment of the materials on record, left unpersuaded to sustain the examination. We must observe that till this stage of the investigation, no conscious lapse or omission on the part of the Board, contributing to the otherwise appalling mischief has surfaced. 21. Conscious are we that, as a consequence, the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Test 2015 would have to be annulled, thereby disturbing the time schedule fixed by this Court in Mridul Dhar (5) [(2005) 2 SCC 65 : 2 SCEC 673] and Priya Gupta [(2012) 7 SCC 433 : (2012) 2 SCC (L&S) 367 : 4 SCEC 555] . Though we respectfully subscribe to the calendar of dates fixed in these cases, more particularly in the textual context thereof, we perceive that in the extraordinary fact situation that confronts us, where the examination involved is vitiated to the core by use of deceitful means and measures to benefit some, the consideration of departure from the said time schedule per se would not be a wholesome justification to sustain the otherwise tainted exercise. The time-frame fixed by this Court in the above cases, in our opinion, was not intended to be inflexibly adhered to in the situation of the kind with which we are seised of. The schedule of dates

was fixed, so as to streamline and discipline the process of admission by its uniform application. In that view of the matter, we are of the understanding that the annulment of the examination and the consequences to follow, in the singular facts and circumstances of the cases, would not in any way be repugnant to the renderings of this Court in Mridul Dhar (5) [(2005) 2 SCC 65 : 2 SCEC 673] and Priya Gupta [(2012) 7 SCC 433 : (2012) 2 SCC (L&S) 367 : 4 SCEC 555] .”

S.

Because a merit list formed by using the results of an exam conducted in such a callous, arbitrary, unfair and unjust manner would be detrimental to the interest of the honest candidates who did not take recourse to unfair means and various students who by virtue of the aforesaid technical as well as infrastructural issues, were put to detriment and on a different footing than the other students without any sufficient rationale whatsoever.

T.

Because in light of the severe and gross malfunctions, system failures, arbitrary allotment of time and several other issues as mentioned hereinabove, the purpose the examination, which was a comparative evaluation of the merit and worth of candidates vying for higher academic pursuits stands defeated and any attempt at remedying the same, other than a re-conducting of the examination, will not result in redressal of the arbitrariness, use of unfair means, denial of equal opportunity, lack of proper

infrastructure and exam friendly environment as has been pointed out by the Petitioners.

U.

Because undue advantage some candidates against the other candidates who have been denied an equal opportunity would lead to grave injustice and put their academic career in jeopardy thereby driving such students’ future into uncertainty without any fault of their own or for any fathomable rationale whatsoever.

10.

GROUNDS FOR INTERIM RELIEF

(a)

That it is respectfully submitted that the present writ petition is being filed under Article 32 of the Constitution as the fundamental rights of the Petitioners herein guaranteed under Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution have been infringed by the actions of Respondent No. 2 to 4. The effect of such gross mismanagement, improper and unfair conduct of the examination is not limited to personal grievances of various Petitioners and complainants, rather it has led to defeating the very purpose of conducting the examination which is to create a pool of meritorious students to be eligible for admissions in the participating universities. It is humbly submitted that according to the schedule released by Respondent No.3 on the CLAT website, Declaration of Results and issuance of Merit List shall

take place on 31st May, 2018 and in the absence of the stay of declaration of Merit List, the participating National Law Universities will begin their admission process based on the Merit List and the Academic Session 2018-19 shall commence which will result in the Petitioners losing at least one precious year of their career. It will also result in creation of new third party rights and complicate the pending lis.

(b)

That it is humbly submitted that irreparable loss will be caused to the Petitioners if the Declaration of Results and issuance of Merit List based on a patently arbitrary and unfair conduct of CLAT-2018 examination is not stayed. The said loss cannot be compensated in terms of money.

(c)

That it is humbly submitted that the Petitioners have a strong prima facie case and the balance of convenience lies in their favour for grant of the interim relief as prayed. Further, no prejudice or irreparable loss would be caused to the respondents if the interim relief is granted, since depending on the outcome of the present writ petition, they will be entitled continue with their admission process. Whereas, the Petitioner’s career is at stake and they will suffer irreparably and be put to grave prejudice if the declaration of Merit List is not stayed and a Re-examination in a transparent, fair and just manner is not conducted for the Candidates en-masse.

11.

MAIN PRAYER It is most respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court be pleased to:

(a)

Pass a writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order and direction quashing the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018 examination conducted by Respondent No. 3 and 4 and setting aside the marks/final score declared by Respondent No. 3 and 4 pursuant to the conduct of CLAT-2018;

(b)

Pass a writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction directing Respondent No. 3 and 4 to conduct re-examination for CLAT-2018 for all candidates en-masse in a fair, just and transparent manner;

(c)

Any other Order and Direction as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case and in interest of justice.

12.

PRAYER FOR INTERIM RELIEF It is therefore, most respectfully prayed before this Hon’ble Court to be pleased to:

(a)

Stay the Declaration of results, i.e., issue of Merit List scheduled to be declared on 31st May, 2018 till the pendency of this Writ Petition.

(b)

Stay the Publication of the first indicative seat allocation list based on merit-cum-preference determined through the Merit List scheduled to be declared on 7th June, 2018 till the pendency of this Writ Petition.

(c)

Pass any such further or other orders as this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.

FOR THIS ACT OF KINDNESS THE HUMBLE PETITONERS SHALL EVER PRAY AS IN DUTY BOUND. DRAWN BY: Zoheb Hossain & Rajendra Dangwal, Advocates FILED BY: [ZOHEB HOSSAIN] ADVOCATE FOR PETITIONERS Drawn on: _____.05.2018 Filed on : _____.05.2018

CLAT Draft WP - Final Copy.pdf

... of India. It is submitted that in the year 1986, pursuant to the. recommendation of the Legal Education Committee of the Bar. Council of India ('BCI'), India's first ...

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