Technical Errors in CLAT 2018: Students Share Horror Story of Exam
CLAT comes under the scanner with candidates alleging that technical glitches led to loss of time.
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Having dropped a year to study for her law entrance exam, 19-year-old Dipanita Singh had hedged her bets on clearing the Common Law Admission Test 2018. She’s aiming to get into any of the top three law colleges in the country. But on 13 May, when she sat down at her designated exam centre in Dwarka, New Delhi, she was struck by panic. Not because she was under-prepared but because her computer screen went blank. Technical glitches prevented her from completing the exam she’d spent a whole year preparing for.
During the first five minutes, my mouse wasn’t working so I asked the technician to change it. After half-an-hour, my screen went blank and it took another five minutes to restore it to normal state, but the questions were in an encrypted form and one could not read them. This happened four times, which eventually took away 20-25 minutes.Dipanita Singh, Petitioner, Delhi High Court
Singh has approached the Delhi High Court seeking that the exam should be conducted again.
We should not suffer due to someone else’s mistake.Dipanita Singh, Petitioner, Delhi High Court
Six other students with similar experiences have petitioned the Supreme Court, requesting that the concerned authorities should take cognisance of these bloopers in a national-level exam.
The Supreme Court has asked National University of Advanced Legal Studies Kochi to probe complaints by students and submit a status report by 30 May. NUALS Kochi was entrusted with the task of conducting CLAT 2018 on 13 May, with the results likely to be announced on 31 May.
Petitioners Talk About Their Traumatic Experience
Tapan Gaur, a resident of Pitampura in Delhi, says it’s a case of sheer mismanagement by the concerned authorities.
Firstly, either the mouse or the software had glitches. Whenever we clicked on the ‘next’ button, it simply wouldn’t move. We had to click multiple times for the system to work.Tapan Gaur, Petitioner, Supreme Court
Disha Panchal, who had appeared for CLAT at an exam centre in Okhla had a similar experience, with invigilators advising students to shut down and re-start their systems even as the exam was under way.
I faced many difficulties while giving the exam, the questions were not displayed properly on the screen. Questions continued to disappear and even the server was not working properly.Disha Panchal, Petitioner, Supreme Court
Apart from the Supreme Court, CLAT candidates have approached various high courts in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana demanding that the exam should be held again.
The students who approached the Supreme Court were represented by senior lawyer Salman Khurshid. Anand Shankar Jha, a lawyer who appeared in the court along with Khurshid, told The Quint:
About 60 students are waiting to join the petition as intervenors. It would be most important to mention that the court heard the matter consecutively for three days, almost compelling the university to put in place a mechanism to address the grievances of students who have been affected.
Students Point Fingers at Invigilators
Apart from technical glitches, students are also pointing fingers at the role of invigilators who did nothing while few students discussed questions with their neighbours without any fear.
Students who first saw the question paper were discussing them openly. Invigilators did nothing to stop them. When I informed the invigilators that few students were cheating, I was told that they (invigilators) can’t do anything as the students won’t listen to them.Disha Panchal, Petitioner, Supreme Court
According to Gaur, some invigilators continued with attendance-related formalities even when the exam had begun:
The invigilators were probably not aware of the time-bound nature of the examination, since a lot among them took time in taking signatures and thumb impressions of various students on the attendance sheet.Tapan Gaur, CLAT candidate
How Online Rage Mobilised the Students
Soon after the exam, students took to Twitter and YouTube complaining about technical errors, which resulted in loss of time during the exam for which the normal duration is that of two hours.
On 14 May, Vennela Krishna, a former student of NALSAR (National Academy of Legal Studies and Research) Hyderabad, floated an online Google document, asking CLAT candidates to share their experiences in case they faced any issue while appearing for the exam.
Within 24 hours, the form was filled by 1,500 students across India who complained about power cuts, systems crashing, screens that froze, delay in exam, worn-out mouse, etc.
Phone recording from an exam centre in Hisar went viral, with students alleging that candidates there were allegedly given four hours to finish the exam.
Even the petition filed at the Supreme Court talks about ‘extra time’ given to students at this exam centre in Hisar (Haryana), calling it ‘grossly unfair’.
The petition filed on behalf of Disha Panchal and others, reads, “For instance, at an examination center as Hissar, Haryana few students were seen attempting the examination till 7:00 pm whereas the exam was expected to conclude at 5:00 pm itself. In essence, it is submitted that Petitioners and thousands of other similarly situated students were compelled to take the examination under grossly unfair condition seriously jeopardizing their result (sic)”.
After CMAT in February this year and MPPSC in March, it seems that another competitive exam has fallen prey to technical errors. With errors creeping into the software and invigilators failing to keep a check on unscrupulous elements, CLAT 2018 has put the future of lakhs of students at stake. The question students are asking is how will the concerned authorities assess the compensation each one deserves in lieu of time lost due to technical errors.
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