Explained: The controversy surrounding NEET-UG 2024 results, the SC’s stance, and the calls for re-examination - Hindustan Times

Explained: The controversy surrounding NEET-UG 2024 results, the SC’s stance, and the calls for re-examination

Jun 13, 2024 08:00 AM IST

Aspirants, parents and some educational professionals are calling for a probe, while the Supreme Court has demanded answers from the National Testing Agency

The National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET-UG) results have caused an uproar this year, with aspirants and parents demanding a probe and re-examination, alleging that the paper was leaked at certain centres where students later received high scores and complaints over “inflation of marks” of students who were compensated with grace marks for the loss of time.

The alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 examination have evoked protests from students all over the country. (ANI)(HT_PRINT) PREMIUM
The alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 examination have evoked protests from students all over the country. (ANI)(HT_PRINT)

The results of the country's biggest entrance exam for admissions to undergraduate medical courses have triggered a political row, with Opposition parties like the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party demanding a probe into the matter. The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought answers from the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the exam, while emphasising that the “sanctity has been affected, we need answers,” as it reacted to the petition filed by 10 NEET candidates. The matter is listed for a hearing on July 8.

The apex court, however, refused to stay the counselling process for admissions in MBBS, BDS, and other courses for successful candidates. The counselling, conducted by the National Medical Council (NMC), is likely to begin in the first week of July. HT explains the entire issue around the NEET-UG results this year.

What is the issue?

Ever since the NEET-UG 2024 results were announced by the NTA on June 4, students, parents and educational professionals have raised complaints about students getting much higher marks than last year, with an unprecedented 67 students who received full marks (720/720) and shared rank one as compared to two students last year. Of these 67 students, six are from the same examination centre in Haryana. Additionally, the results of the exam were scheduled to be released on June 14 but were instead released 10 days earlier on June 4. Besides, major concerns are being raised over grace marks provided to 1,563 candidates as compensation for the “loss of time” during the exam.

Stakeholders have been demanding clarity on how many marks were given to these students as compensation and the normalization formula used for the same. Abhishek Gupta, a student and NEET aspirant, said, “The provision of grace marks this time has never happened in the history of any exam in India. The rank has now hyperinflated. 67 students got 720/720, and some are from the same centre. All these raise many doubts.”

“The NTA has acknowledged giving grace marks due to delays in starting the exam at certain centres. Regardless of the number of marks awarded, even a single grace mark is highly questionable. If the exam started late, NTA should have rescheduled the exam instead of giving grace marks,” said Mohit Kumar Tyagi, founder and CEO of Competishun, a competitive exam coaching platform.

There have been allegations of cheating at centres where a large number of students scored high marks. “How is it even possible to have so many toppers from the same centre? And their roll numbers are also very close. It is a clear case of cheating,” said Muskan Kumari, a student, in a post on X.

Several students alleged that due to the alleged inflation of marks, many of them won’t get their desired ranks despite scoring marks on which good ranks were secured last year.

“I was expecting a rank between 30 and 32 as last year, the same marks would have fetched me the 19th rank. But this year my rank dropped to 192. Even those with a perfect score of 720 are not securing seats at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi due to only 46 general category seats. How can this happen?” asked Om Vats, a student in Chandigarh who secured 715 marks.

What did the NTA say?

The testing agency has denied the allegations of paper leak and emphasised that the integrity of the exam was not compromised.

In a media interaction with reporters on Friday, NTA director-general Subodh Singh explained the reasons behind the issues raised by different stakeholders regarding the NEET exam.

On students receiving grace marks, Singh said that students from at least six centres in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat and Chandigarh had complained about the loss of time during the exams. At these locations, the students did not get the full 3 hours and 20 minutes to write the exam due to administrative reasons that included the distribution of the wrong question paper, torn OMR sheets or delay in the distribution of OMR sheets.

“Afterwards, a committee was formed to look into the matter. The committee investigated and came up with the formula devised and adopted by the apex court in a 2018 judgment, to address the loss of time faced by candidates. The loss of time was ascertained and such candidates were compensated with grace marks,” he said.

The NTA said that 1,563 candidates were compensated with marks based on their answering efficiency and time lost, as per the formula established by the SC, vide its judgment dated 13.06.2018 in W.P. 551 of 2018.

On the number of students securing AIR 1, the official said that the question paper was prepared using a new NCERT textbook, however, some students had old NCERT textbooks. While one option was correct according to the new NCERT book, another option was right according to the other.

“The NTA got representation from the students on the same, due to which we had to assign five marks to all students who had marked one of the two options. Due to this, marks of a total of 44 students increased from 715 to 720, which resulted in an increased number of toppers,” Kumar said.

On many toppers from the same centre, Kumar said, “This centre in Haryana’s Bahadurgarh also had a time loss case. Therefore, it is likely that those students who did well were further benefited by the revised marks as compensation for the time loss.”

As per NTA, the top 100 candidates are distributed across 89 different centres located in 55 cities within 17 states/UTs. “Out of these top candidates, 73 belong to the CBSE board, while the remaining 27 are from various state boards. This diverse distribution highlights the widespread participation and competitive spirit among students from different regions and educational backgrounds,” the agency said in a statement.

However, a senior NTA official further emphasised that the question paper this time was comparatively easier, due to which students’ marks increased. “Due to easier exams, students have got more marks this year. Therefore, if someone calculated their marks using the answer key and assumed that they would secure a seat in the same college as their predecessor secured with similar marks last year, may now get that. This is a competition and the number of aspirants also increased,” the official said.

On results being declared earlier than the scheduled date of June 14, the NTA simply said that since the results were ready by June 4, there was no reason to delay the announcement by another ten days.

What is expected next?

Amidst the outrage, the NTA on Saturday constituted a four-member panel, headed by a former chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission, to re-examine the results of 1,563 candidates who were given grace marks as compensation for loss of time.

The committee will submit its recommendations within a week and the results of these candidates may be revised. “We are waiting for the committee to submit its report and any decision will be taken based on the same,” said a senior NTA official.

However, the testing agency outrightly said that the committee will not look into other issues raised by students such as higher scores, and the unprecedented number of toppers from the same centre.

"It is impossible to conduct a re-exam of NEET-UG, which involves over 23 lakh students. We are reiterating that the sanctity of the exam was not compromised. And the outcome of the committee's report won’t affect the results of other students,” said the official quoted above.

Nitin Vijay, founder of Motion Education and one of the petitioners in the apex court, said that the Supreme Court should constitute a high-powered committee to examine the students’ results from centres where discrepancies were reported. “Based on the findings of the Court, a re-exam should be conducted at the centres where irregularities are identified,” he said.

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