The National Testing Agency (NTA) informed the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that it is prepared to administer the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) in vernacular languages, in addition to English [Sudhanshu Pathak v. Consortium of National Law Universities through Secretary & Ors].
At present, the CLAT, which governs admission to 22 national law universities for LLB and LLM programs, is exclusively conducted in English.
In an affidavit submitted to the Court, the NTA explained that it already conducts exams like NEET-UG, JEE, and others in multiple languages. Consequently, it possesses a pool of experts and translators covering a wide range of subjects to craft question papers in various languages.
The NTA argued, “Accordingly, the question papers in respect of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) -UG can be translated into other Indian languages, such as Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, and design/print the requisite OMR Answer Sheet in the required quantity depending upon the number of candidates scheduled for the said Test.”
However, the NTA added that if it were to conduct CLAT (UG) 2024, it could take place in the third or fourth week of January 2024. The exams are currently scheduled for December 3, 2023.
The agency explained that it requires a minimum of four months for various preparations, including the development of question papers, moderation, translation, proofreading, vetting, or validation, finalizing exam centers in major cities, organizing the movement of exam materials, and other pre-exam arrangements.
The NTA also proposed that CLAT (UG) could be conducted in Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode, similar to JEE (Main) and CUET (UG), in consultation with the Consortium of National Law Universities.
This response from the NTA comes in the context of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by law student Sudhanshu Pathak, who called for CLAT to be offered in regional languages alongside English. The petition was filed through advocates Akash Vajpai and Sakshi Raghav.
Notably, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has also offered to oversee the administration of CLAT in regional languages, arguing that no deserving candidate should be excluded from taking the exam due to a lack of proficiency in English. The BCI cited its experience in conducting similar exams, such as the All India Bar Examination, in a fair and transparent manner.
Furthermore, the Central government has expressed its approval for conducting CLAT in regional languages.