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NEET sanctity hit, need answers, says SC on plea for fresh exam

NEET sanctity hit, need answers, says SC on plea for fresh exam

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has called for a response from the National Testing Agency (NTA) and the Centre regarding a petition that demands a re-conduct of the NEET-UG 2024, citing concerns over the sanctity of the examination process due to alleged leaks and other irregularities. Despite these concerns, the court has decided not to halt the ongoing counselling process for successful candidates seeking admission to medical courses.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah acknowledged the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for answers due to the compromised sanctity of the examination. Notices have also been sent to the Bihar government amid accusations of misconduct during the examination in the state.

The bench questioned the timeframe required for a response, hinting at the possibility of counselling commencement upon the court’s reopening. The plea, initiated by Shivangi Mishra and nine other medical aspirants, has been linked to a similar pending petition, with the NTA instructed to provide a response in the interim. Regular hearings are set to resume on July 8, following the end of the summer vacation that began on May 20.

The NEET-UG 2024 took place on May 5, with results announced on June 4, ahead of the expected date of June 14. The examination, conducted by the NTA, serves as the gateway for students to enter MBBS, BDS, AYUSH, and other related medical courses in both government and private institutions nationwide.

The court issued a notice and awaits the NTA’s response. However, it rejected the argument presented by the students’ lawyer, Mathews J Nedumpara, to postpone the counselling process.

The bench firmly stated that counselling would proceed without interruption, warning that further arguments could lead to the dismissal of the plea. The court noted the request to associate the new plea with a previous one, which had already received attention from a bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud on May 17 and is scheduled for review on July 8.

Lawyer Nedumpara expressed concerns over the alleged widespread access to leaked examination papers, which may have contributed to the success of certain candidates. With 23 lakh participants and only 1 lakh available seats, the examination’s integrity is of utmost importance. Notably, 67 students achieved a perfect score.

The petitioners, including Mishra and nine others, urge the NTA to annul the results and hold a new examination, ensuring a fair chance for all candidates to compete for their preferred college admissions. They also call for measures to prevent future occurrences of malpractice and fraud, particularly concerning question paper leaks.

The petition highlights the distress and anxiety faced by the aspirants due to the alleged leak, which they believe has undermined the fairness of the competition. It mentions the arrest of four individuals, including two medical students, for allegedly operating a paper-solving scheme during the NEET exams at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mehta Vidyalaya in New Delhi.

The petitioners seek the court’s urgent intervention, asserting that the reported malpractices and leaks have violated the constitutional right to equality by providing certain candidates with an unfair advantage. They reference a previous decision by a CJI-led bench that declined to stay the examination results but agreed to consider the plea for a re-examination. This case, along with others, is pending in various high courts.

Specific allegations point to the leak of examination papers in Patna and the distribution of incorrect question papers in Rajasthan, with reports indicating an unusually high number of candidates scoring the maximum marks. The petitioners await the court’s decision on these pressing issues.

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