The Delhi High Court has recently addressed the issue of language disparity in the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), urging the consortium of National Law Universities to consider conducting the examination in regional languages. The court granted a four-week period for the consortium to respond to a petition that highlights the need for inclusivity by offering CLAT in languages other than English.
The court bench, headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, questioned why medical and engineering entrance exams could be held in regional languages while CLAT remains exclusively in English. They pointed out that other exams, such as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), are already conducted in multiple languages, including Hindi.
Acknowledging the concerns raised by the petitioner, who argued that CLAT’s English-only format creates an uneven playing field for students from non-English medium backgrounds, the court emphasized the need to promote inclusivity. The petitioner contended that the language barrier places students with regional language education at a disadvantage, hindering their ability to compete with their English-speaking counterparts.
The consortium’s counsel, in response, expressed agreement with the idea of making CLAT more inclusive by including regional languages. However, they raised the need for linguistic experts with legal knowledge to ensure accurate translation of the examination papers. They assured the court that the issue would be discussed in an upcoming committee meeting, scheduled to take place soon.
The court also took note of the fact that other important entrance exams, such as the All India Bar Examination (AIBE), are already conducted in regional languages. This further strengthened the argument for expanding language options in CLAT.
The petition cited the New Education Policy, 2020, and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which highlight the importance of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in schools and higher education institutions. The plea emphasized that by limiting CLAT to English, a significant portion of students who have studied in regional languages are being deprived of the opportunity to pursue a 5-year LLB course.
The court’s decision to grant the consortium four weeks to respond positively to the petition demonstrates its recognition of the need for fair and inclusive practices in the examination process. By ensuring that regional languages are included in CLAT, the court aims to provide equal opportunities for aspiring law students across the country.
The matter is scheduled for further hearing on July 7, and stakeholders, including the Consortium of National Law Universities and the Bar Council of India, have been asked to submit their responses within the specified timeline. The outcome of this case has the potential to bring about a positive change in CLAT, making legal education more accessible and equitable for students from diverse linguistic backgrounds.