IIT-Madras ruled out ‘mass malpractice’ in NEET-UG exam, Centre tells Supreme Court

Government submits affidavit in Supreme Court referring to a data analytics report submitted by Indian institute of Technology (Madras)

Updated - July 11, 2024 10:21 am IST

Published - July 11, 2024 01:13 am IST - NEW DELHI

A student holds a placard demanding a NEET-UG retest, at the premises of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on July 8, 2024.

A student holds a placard demanding a NEET-UG retest, at the premises of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on July 8, 2024. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Centre on Wednesday submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court referring to a data analytics report submitted by the Indian institute of Technology-Madras ruling out “mass malpractice” or localised set of candidates having been benefited in the NEET-UG 2024 exam leading to abnormal scores.

The allegations over NEET-UG 2024 | Explained 

The IIT-Madras was assigned the task of suggesting modalities which could be followed to segregate students suspected of using unfair means from other students.

In a separate affidavit, the National Testing Agency (NTA), which holds the exam, said the total number of actual candidates whose final scores reflected perfect 720 marks was 61 only. The NTA denied allegations of petitioners that 67 candidates scored perfect marks as “fallacious and incorrect”.

FOLLOW: NEET-UG 2024 hearing LIVE updates - July 11, 2024

It said six of the 67 scored 720 marks in view of grace marks awarded due to loss of time at the Jhajjar Centre. Out of 61 candidates, only 17 candidates obtained 720/720 marks based on provisional answer keys and 44 on account of the revision in one answer key of Physics.

“Thus the actual candidates without revision of the answer key were only 17 candidates which is not significantly higher than previous years… These 17 candidates are distributed among 16 centres located in 15 cities,” the NTA reasoned.

Future security options under consideration include replacing the mode of conduct of examination from pen-and-paper mode (OMR mode) to computer-based test mode.

‘Fake video’

Referring to allegations that the question paper was leaked through Telegram channel, the NTA said the video was fake. “The timestamp was manipulated to create a false impression of an early leak. Images in the video were edited. The date was intentionally modified to suggest a May 4 leak,” it informed.

On the logistics and security features of conducting the 2024 exam, the NTA said the movement of the question papers was tracked on a real-time basis. Transportation of the papers was done under CCTV coverage and the footage was preserved. Any breach in security would be recorded and reported to the NTA. Not only the place where the breach took place, but the place, time and stage at which it occurred would be reported.

The question papers were stored in trunks in safety deposit vaults of the State Bank of India and Canara Banks of the districts concerned where the exam was held.

Preparation of questions

On the preparation of questions, the NTA said experts were invited to a restricted area in the NTA office. Workshops were held and a total of 140 subject experts participated in the exercise between August and December 2023.

The work of the experts was sealed at the end of each day and returned to them the next day.

Ten subject expert moderators combined the questions into question papers between February 16 and 28. A minimum of two fully independent question papers were made. Subject experts were different for each subject question paper. Question papers were solved by another nine subject experts who gave their feedback. This exercise was held between March 1 and 7. The question papers were printed in confidential press and logs maintained. Translations of the questions were done into 12 languages by a team of 101 translators between March 8 and 31. OMR sheets were printed elsewhere. Each OMR sheet had a unique number with a barcode. The corresponding question papers were printed with the same serial number. Trucks carrying the papers had digital lockers with GPS trackers. These trunks were opened 45 minutes before the exam before two invigilators and two candidates as witnesses. Candidates had opened the seal of the question papers at 1.55 p.m. on May 5.

No question papers were found missing at Patna and Hazaribagh and no seals were broken. There was no untoward incident or any pointers to paper leakage.

The assessment of 17 candidates reported as suspicious by the Bihar police investigation, now taken over by the CBI, did not disclose much impact on the conduct of the exam. The performance of the students involved was moderate to below average. A list of 30 candidates was provided by the Godhra district administration and the police. Their results have been withheld after issuing show-cause notices.

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