The Delhi High Court has requested the National Testing Agency (NTA) to provide its stance on a petition that calls for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT)-2024 to be conducted not only in English but also in regional languages.
Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, presiding over a bench, asked the NTA, responsible for conducting competitive exams like NEET and JEE, to submit a response regarding the feasibility of translating CLAT questions into other languages.
The court, upon hearing that the government has no objections to the petition’s requests, instructed the government lawyer to file a detailed affidavit.
The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), administered by a Consortium of National Law Universities, is currently conducted in English, with CLAT-2024 scheduled for December 2023.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that if the Bar Council of India could conduct the All India Bar Examination in several regional languages, the consortium should strive to do the same.
Senior advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, representing the consortium, contended that holding CLAT in multiple languages was more complex than simple translation, as CLAT tests are not of that nature.
The court decided to first hear from NTA and noted that other competitive exams also employ multiple-choice questions like CLAT and are conducted in languages other than English.
In a previous hearing in May, the court asked the consortium to explain why exams for medical and engineering courses could be conducted in regional languages but not CLAT.
The Bar Council of India (BCI) supports the petitioner’s position and has argued that conducting CLAT in languages other than English would expand opportunities for more people to enter the legal profession.
The petitioner, a law student at Delhi University, argues that the CLAT (UG) exam is discriminatory and does not provide a level playing field for students from regional language backgrounds.
The Consortium of National Law Universities has informed the high court that preparations for CLAT-2024 are well underway, and any judicial order compelling the introduction of additional language options this year without deliberations would cause significant administrative and operational problems.
The consortium has created an expert committee of vice-chancellors from the five-member NLUs to examine the issue of offering CLAT in additional languages and to create a comprehensive plan after considering stakeholders’ perspectives and potential constraints.
The matter will be heard again on September 15.