‘Sanctity affected, we need answers’: SC to Centre, NTA on NEET-UG ‘paper leak’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Sanctity affected, we need answers’: SC to Centre, NTA on NEET-UG ‘paper leak’

ByAbraham Thomas
Jun 11, 2024 03:07 PM IST

The SC refused to stay the counselling and will hear the matter on July 8 along with a pending petition raising alleged discrepancies in the test held on May 5

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the National Testing Agency (NTA) and the Centre over a plea seeking fresh conduct of the NEET-UG medical entrance exam 2024, claiming that the sanctity of the examination had been affected by allegations of paper leak and irregularities in the results announced on June 4.

Supreme Court of India. (PTI File Photo)
Supreme Court of India. (PTI File Photo)

The vacation bench, headed by justice Vikram Nath, refused to stay the counselling and will hear the matter on July 8 along with a pending petition raising alleged discrepancies in the NEET-UG test held on May 5.

“The matter is not so simple. The sanctity (of the examination) has been affected. We need answers for that,” the bench, also comprising justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, said.

The court was hearing a petition by 10 candidates out of nearly 2.4 million students who took the National Eligibility-cum Entrance Test (NEET) at 4,750 centres spread across 571 cities (including overseas) for admission to MBBS colleges.

Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mathews J Nedunmpara urged that allegations of paper leak have surfaced, and investigations have been initiated in this regard by the Bihar police. Demanding a stay on the results till investigations are over, Nedumpara said, “Counselling has begun. We are seeking interim orders that let counseling be stayed in the meantime.”

The bench, however, was not inclined to pass such an order. “Let counselling go on. We will not stop the counseling.”

Representing NTA, senior advocate Naresh Kaushik, drew the bench’s attention to an order passed by the top court on May 17 on a petition filed by one Vanishika Yadav, alleging paper leak in the NEET-UG examination. As the matter is pending before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, the vacation bench directed NTA to file its response and directed the present petition to be taken up with the other case.

Earlier in the day, lawyers representing other students informed the court that more petitions have been filed challenging other aspects of NEET-UG, encompassing not just allegations of paper leak and award of marks, but the compensatory policy of NTA to award grace marks for loss of time suffered by 1,563 candidates.

Advocates J Sai Deepak and Kunal Cheema representing two such sets of petitions requested the bench to tag their matter with the present petition heard by court. The bench expressed its inability, citing procedure which requires all unlisted matters to be mentioned before the Registry which places it for consideration of the CJI.

The petition that was heard on Tuesday was filed on June 1, much before the NEET-UG results were announced.

The allegations of paper leak emerged after students appearing for the Hindi medium at one centre in Rajasthan got question papers in English, while there were reports of torn OMR sheets and delay in distribution of question papers. A case was lodged in Patna over the alleged paper leak, and the police have arrested some people. The investigation is still on.

Later, the NTA announced its policy to award grace marks to 1,563 students from six centres in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat and Chandigarh who complained that they did not get the stipulated 3 hours and 20 minutes in its entirety for the examination. With the declaration of results on June 4, suspicions of alleged paper leak gained ground as six candidates from the same centre in Haryana scored full marks out of 720.

The marking scheme adopted by NTA came under scanner after 67 candidates got a perfect score of 720 and those at ranks 68 and 69 had a score of 719 and 718 marks. The NTA denied allegations of paper leak and issued a statement on June 7 explaining that out of the 67 candidates who secured full marks, 44 got on account of revision in one answer key of Physics, while 6 benefitted from the grace marks allotted for loss of time.

Besides petitions filed in the top court, the Calcutta high court entertained a petition over the alleged irregularities in the examination and the compensatory policy has separately been challenged in a separate petition before the Delhi high court.

The Congress and other opposition parties, including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have made the controversy surrounding the NEET results a political issue, raising questions over the efficiency of the Centre to conduct the examination that impacts the future of 2.4 million students. Rahul Gandhi even promised to take up the matter in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the ministry of education on June 8 announced the setting up of a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to over 1,500 students while maintaining that the integrity of the examination has not been affected. The committee is expected to submit its report within a week.

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