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NEET 2024 controversy: “Even if there is 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with” says SC

A vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and SVN Bhatti heard the pleas of 32 candidates requesting the cancellation of the May 5 NEET exam

On Monday, the Supreme Court advised the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to acknowledge any errors made in administering this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET 2024 controversy). The Court emphasized that even the slightest negligence, as small as 0.001%, should be thoroughly addressed. This statement comes amidst the turmoil surrounding the NEET 2024 controversy, which endangers the futures of hundreds of thousands of students.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and SVN Bhatti heard the pleas of 32 candidates requesting the cancellation of the May 5 NEET exam due to allegations of paper leaks, malpractice, manipulation at examination centre’s, and result discrepancies. The court issued a notice and scheduled the hearing, along with other related petitions, for July 8.

The court stated “We all know the labor children have put in for this examination. You must stand firm. If there is a mistake, you must say that we admit the mistake as that will inspire confidence in the system. It should not be taken as an adversarial litigation.”

“Even if there is 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with,” said the bench to advocate Kanu Agarwal, representing the Centre, and advocate Vardhaman Kaushik, representing the NTA.

Court’s Perspective on the NEET 2024 Controversy:

For weeks, protests have erupted across India with thousands of students taking to the streets to oppose this year’s NEET process, citing allegations of question paper leaks, inflated scores, and arbitrary awarding of grace marks. Opposition parties have demanded a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into these claims.

 “Narendra Modi, as usual, is maintaining silence on tampering with the future of more than 24 lakh students in the NEET examination,” stated  Rahul Gandhi on X. 

The government has consistently stated it will not tolerate malpractice and irregularities, but it has ruled out canceling the entire NEET exam due to issues at a few centers.Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan stated “…some irregularities have come to light at two places. I assure the students and parents that the government has taken this seriously. We have received the information and we will take all the issues to a decisive stage.”

This year’s NEET has faced significant controversy due to allegations of misconduct. In Rajasthan, Hindi medium students reportedly received English question papers, and there were issues with torn OMR sheets and delayed distribution. In Patna, a paper leak led to the arrest of 13 people, including four examinees. At least 10 petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court, which will be heard on July 8 by a bench likely headed by Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud. The exam was taken by 2.4 million students at 4,750 centers in 571 cities worldwide.

NEET 2024 controversy
Image Source: India.Com

The court stated “Imagine a person who has played fraud on the system, such a person getting admission to the course and becoming a doctor is more deleterious to the society.”

 The Centre informed the court that no conclusions should be drawn until the NTA and the Centre submit their responses on July 8.

Kanu Agarwal pleaded “The court may not come to a conclusion yet and await what the Centre has to say.” The bench responded , “We want timely action from you. It needs to be checked how many mobiles were used. Rarely does the court react. And during vacations, we tend to react slowly.” 

Days after the Supreme Court permitted the Centre to revoke grace marks given to 1,563 students and offer them a retest on June 23, the Centre told the court not to form an opinion before the NTA and Centre present their responses on July 8. This measure addressed only a small part of the broader NEET issues, such as the surge in perfect scores from 2 in 2023 to 67 this year, and other inconsistencies like discrepancies in physics textbooks and inflated marking.On Tuesday, the court issued a notice regarding candidate Nitin Vijay’s petition, telling the NTA “Be prepared for the award of grace marks to 1563 candidates. There is a lot of opposition coming for that too.”

The 1,563 candidates who received grace marks reported not having the full 3 hours and 20 minutes to complete the exam. The NTA grievance committee identified these candidates from six centers in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat, and Chandigarh. Advocate Kunal Cheema, representing 32 petitioners, cited a 2015 Supreme Court decision that canceled the All-India Pre-Medical Test due to a paper leak. Cheema requested the court to postpone the counseling scheduled to start on July 6 while investigations into alleged malpractices are ongoing.However, the bench declined the request, stating “Keep the arguments close to your heart. You can argue this on July 8. All these issues will be considered.”

The Supreme Court received the first NEET petition on May 17, before the summer recess, and set a deadline of July 8 for responses from the Centre and NTA. On June 11, a related petition was merged with the initial one. Subsequently, NTA requested transferring a NEET case from the Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court, scheduled also for July 8. The Court also heard six other petitions, including one demanding a CBI investigation. NTA refuted paper leak claims and clarified that 44 perfect scores resulted from a Physics answer key revision, while six candidates received grace marks from the same exam center in Haryana.

Amulya Vijaya Pinapati, the primary petitioner among the group of 32 who lodged their plea on Tuesday stated “It is amply clear that the impact of the leak is all over and hence it is inevitable that a re-exam should be conducted, so that the petitioners get a fair opportunity to reap the correct results of their hard labour.”

You might also be interested in – NEET UG Result 2024: Grace marks cancelled for 1563 candidates, students will have option to retake exam

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