NEET-UG 2024: Don’t be in self-denial, Supreme Court tells Centre; seeks status report from CBI on probe into paper leak : The Tribune India

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NEET-UG 2024: Don’t be in self-denial, Supreme Court tells Centre; seeks status report from CBI on probe into paper leak

A re-test would be ordered if it’s found that paper leak is widespread, says three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud; posts the matter for further hearing on Thursday

NEET-UG 2024: Don’t be in self-denial, Supreme Court tells Centre; seeks status report from CBI on probe into paper leak

Students and others at the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Monday, PTI



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, July 8

Asking the Centre not to be in self-denial, the Supreme Court on Monday highlighted several ‘red flags’ in the NEET-UG 2024 examination held on May 5 and made it clear that it would order a re-test if it’s found that the paper leak is widespread.

"One thing which is very clear is that the leak has taken place… That the sanctity of the exam has been breached is beyond doubt. The question is how widespread is the leak," three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud said, while hearing petitions seeking scrapping of NEET-UG 2024 for alleged paper leak and other malpractices.

"Is it the case of NTA today that there is no (paper) leak? We take it that there is an admitted position that there is a leak. The nature of the leak is the fact we are determining," CJI said.

The top court, however, said, “Before we decide to order a re-test, we must understand what is the nature of (paper) leak... is it widespread or isolated… Asking 23 lakh plus students to appear for a re-test is tough.”

However, it said, "In a situation where breach affects the entirety of the process and it’s not possible to segregate the beneficiaries from others, it may be necessary to order a re-test."

Around 24 lakh students appeared for NEET-UG 2024 Examination conducted on May 5 by the NTA across 4,750 centres in 511 cities and 14 centres abroad for admission to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in more than 700 government and private institutions to fill 1.08 lakh seats.

Highlighting the red flags, the Bench noted that an unusually high number i.e. 67 students got a perfect score of 720 out of 720 in the NEET-UG 2024 results declared on June 4 and some of the Rank 1 holders had the same sequence of roll numbers which raised suspicion of malpractice and irregularities.

The majority of them were from the same examination centres in Rajasthan (11), Tamil Nadu (8), Maharashtra (7), Haryana (6) and four each from Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. In 2019 and 2020, there was one topper each while there were three toppers in 2021, one in 2022, and two in 2023, it pointed out.

Many students get exceptionally high marks in NEET, but their good performance was not reflected in their Class XII exams, the Bench said even as it acknowledged that students may not study that hard for the board exams. Students who got exceptionally high marks in one subject in NEET-UG 2024, scored abysmally low in another subject, it noted.

The Bench – which also included Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra – directed the CBI to submit a status report on the probe into the paper leak and posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday -- July 11.

It asked the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to clarify if it’s possible to identify and segregate the ‘wrongdoers’ from honest candidates. "If we have to separate the grain from the chaff, we have to identify the red flags,” it said.

The Bench sought to know the timing of paper leak and duration between leak and actual test as also the number of wrongdoers identified so far and methodology adopted for the paper leak.

It asked the NTA to inform it about the steps taken to identify the centres and cities where the question paper leak took place, the modalities followed for identifying the beneficiaries and their numbers ascertained so far.

Noting that the Centre has already set up a high-level committee headed by former ISRO Chairman Dr K Radhaakrishnan to suggest effective measures “for conducting transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations” by the NTA, the CJI hinted at adding a few more experts to the panel to make it a multi-disciplinary committee.

Both the Centre and the NTA -- which conducts the NEET-UG test– have opposed scrapping the examination. In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Centre said scrapping the entire examination would seriously jeopardize lakhs of honest candidates who didn’t adopt any unfair means.

In a separate affidavit, the NTA also opposed cancellation of the controversy-ridden NEET-UG 2024, saying it “would be hugely counterproductive and significantly harmful to the larger public interest, especially to the career prospects of the qualified candidates.”

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#Central Bureau of Investigation CBI #Justice DY Chandrachud #Supreme Court


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