A two-judge bench of the Karnataka high court on Thursday admitted a lawsuit by an aspirant to the Indian Institutes of Management on the schools’ snag-ridden Common Admission Test (CAT) in 2009.

Legal test: A November photo of aspirants waiting to take the CAT outside the Lokmanya Tilak College of Engineering in Mumbai. Bachchan Kumar / HT

Harsha Shettigar, in his public interest litigation (PIL), asks for a halt to CAT as an interim measure, and finally, its cancellation.

This is the first time the CAT, a qualifying test for India’s premier business schools, has been questioned in court in its 33-year-old history.

More than 240,000 candidates applied to sit for CAT 2009, conducted for the first time in a online format from 28 November to 8 December by Prometric Testing Pvt. Ltd, the local arm of US-based Prometric Inc.

Many candidates could not take the exam because of technical glitches.

Shettigar, who took the test, has based his lawsuit on the repetition of questions in CAT 2009, which would have given an unfair advantage to those who took the exam in the later part of the 11-day schedule.

“A lot of people have been affected due to the mismanagement" of the exam, said Siji Malayil, Shettigar’s lawyer. He said the exam violated candidates’ right to equality.

The high court has sought replies from the convenor of the examination, the director of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) and an official of the ministry of human resource development, which oversees education.

Satish Deodhar, the convenor of CAT 2009 and a faculty member of IIM Ahmedabad, could not be reached for his comment. The office of the IIM-B director said he was travelling.

A Supreme Court lawyer said that if the high court finds merit in the case, it has the jurisdiction to cancel CAT for the entire country. “It has complete powers to direct cancellation of the exam," said Gopal Sankaranarayanan.

Prometric Testing last week announced new test dates for candidates who could not take the exam due to technical problems. These candidates can apply for the test on 30-31 January.