NEET-UG Row: Supreme Court notice to National Testing Agency, Centre on pleas seeking probe into NEET 2024

The NTA, meanwhile, said it wanted to withdraw three other petitions, which were seeking transfer of cases from high courts to the top court

Updated - June 15, 2024 07:00 pm IST

Published - June 14, 2024 12:23 pm IST

Members of Indian Youth Congress during a protest over the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results, in New Delhi on June 09, 2024.

Members of Indian Youth Congress during a protest over the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results, in New Delhi on June 09, 2024. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

The Supreme Court on June 14 asked the National Testing Agency and the Centre to respond to pleas seeking a probe by a committee chaired by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or an investigation agency into allegations of question paper leak and discrepancies in the undergraduate National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2024.

Petitioners appearing before a Vacation Bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta urged the “imminent need for a CBI investigation”.

“Can a CBI investigation be ordered ex parte today? Is that your submission? We are not rejecting your relief, but let them file their response,” Justice Nath addressed the lawyers appearing for a clutch of petitioners.

One of the petitions, represented by advocate Charu Mathur, said there was a growing demand, even within the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Junior Doctors Network, for a CBI probe into the “record number of students scoring perfect scores”.

The petition represented by Ms. Mathur highlighted that the Opposition and other leaders of the country have demanded a probe into the NEET results.

“This clearly shows there has been illegality and arbitrariness in the evaluations and results of the examination which need to be taken cognisance of and probe needs to be carried out,” petitioners Aarsh Samir Vyas and others pointed out.

They alleged irregularities like students receiving different marks on their scorecards compared to their OMR sheets; unprecedented inflation of cut-off and average marks resulted in an unprecedented 67 candidates achieving a perfect score of 720/720; six of these toppers were from the same exam centre in Haryana; students having scored 718 and 719 marks, which is “statistically questionable”; no disclosure of method/criteria adopted for grant of compensatory marks for loss of time, etc.

Issuing formal notice to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which holds NEET, and the Centre, the court asked them to file their replies in two weeks. The petitions were scheduled for hearing on July 8, along with several others filed earlier. A slew of petitions have been filed in the apex court on the NEET-UG exam, including the award of grace marks.

With burgeoning litigation and public furore about the exam, Justice Nath’s Bench, in an order on June 13, recorded NTA’s decision to conduct a re-test for 1563 candidates who were given grace marks.

“We did not direct the NTA… NTA itself decided to hold the re-exam. We said in the order that it was the right way to do things,” Justice Nath corrected a counsel who happened to submit that the NTA was acting on the court’s direction on June 13.

The NTA has also separately approached the apex court to transfer petitions pending in various High Courts to the Supreme Court. The Bench issued notice in NTA’s transfer petitions.

Meanwhile, during.the hearing, the top court stood firm by its stand against changing the counselling date from July 6. A lawyer wanted it to be shifted to July 9, a day after the apex court hearing on July 8.

“No… that (to change the counselling date) has already been considered and dismissed,” Justice Nath told the lawyer.

The NEET (UG) examination, which is under a cloud, was conducted by the NTA on May 5 at 4750 centres in 571 cities (including 14 cities abroad) for more than 24 lakh candidates.

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