Supreme Court says any negligence in conduct of NEET should be dealt with thoroughly

The Vacation Bench listed the case for hearing along with the other petitions challenging various aspects of the conduct of NEET-UG 2024 on July 8

Updated - June 20, 2024 11:50 am IST

Published - June 18, 2024 12:08 pm IST - New Delhi

National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activists participate in a Mashal rally to protest the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG entrance exam results, in New Delhi on June 15, 2024.

National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activists participate in a Mashal rally to protest the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG entrance exam results, in New Delhi on June 15, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on June 18 made it clear to the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) that it did not want “even .001% negligence” on the part of anyone in the conduct of the undergraduate National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2024 to be spared.

“Even if there is .001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with,” Justice S.V. Bhatti, part of a Vacation Bench headed by Justice Vikram Nath, addressed the lawyers appearing for the Centre and NTA.

Also read | NEET paper leak: Rahul Gandhi questions PM Modi ‘silence’

The court said the NTA, which holds the exam for medical admissions in the country, should be able to take a firm stand and, if necessary, own up to having made mistakes if there were any made while holding the NEET-UG 2024. The NEET (UG) examination was conducted by the NTA on May 5 at 4750 centres in 571 cities (including 14 cities abroad) for more than 24 lakh candidates.

“You (NTA) must stand firm. If there is a mistake, say ‘yes, there is a mistake. This is the action we are going to take’. At least that will inspire confidence in your performance,” Justice Bhatti addressed advocate Kanu Agrawal, appearing for the NTA and the Union government.

Justice Nath agreed with his companion judge, remarking orally that the allegations on NEET were “very serious”.

NEET-UG 2024: Supreme Court notice to NTA, Centre on plea to form independent enquiry committee

Justice Bhatti told the Centre and NTA that they should not treat the petitions filed by NEET aspirants and academicians as adversarial.

“Imagine a person who has played fraud on the system becoming a doctor. That would be deleterious to society,” Justice Bhatti pointed out to the government and the NEET agency.

Justice Bhatti highlighted the honest effort put in by lakhs of children to prepare for NEET exam. Cheating thwarted honest effort and ambition.

“We all know the labour children put in, especially for this exam,” Justice Bhatti emphasised.

Mr. Agrawal beseeched the judges to not come to an adverse conclusion against the NTA and the government before they had filed their responses to myriad petitions filed in the apex court.

The counsel said there was no doubt about the preparations children put in for NEET. “We were discussing [outside the courtroom] the difficulties that children undergo,” Mr. Agrawal said.

“Your stand outside ought not change the moment you enter the court,” Justice Bhatti reacted.

With the exam coming under Supreme Court scanner, the NTA had on June 13 agreed to withdraw and cancel the score cards of 1563 candidates who were given grace marks. The agency would be conducting a re-test for them on June 23.

The judge said all that was required was an honest examination of what may have gone “wrong”.

“If someone sits down at a table and goes through the performance of most candidates, one can find out what has gone wrong… how many cell phones were used and what were the places to which papers had come… We want timely action,” Justice Bhatti spoke for the Bench.

The hearing was based on two petitions filed by a total of over 30 candidates urging the apex court to take cognisance of the NEET controversy. The court has seen several petitions filed with similar prayers since the NEET results were declared early in June.

Also read: Student unions protest seeking NEET retest, take out huge rally in Hyderabad 

Petitioners urged the court to ask for an investigation report on the controversy ahead of the counselling date of July 6.

Justice Nath issued notice and directed the Union and NTA to submit their responses in two weeks. The Vacation Bench listed the case for hearing along with the other petitions challenging various aspects of the conduct of NEET-UG 2024 on July 8.

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