NEET-UG 2024 hearing highlights | SC says exam compromised, orders CBI to submit report on status of probe

Flagging that there is “no doubt” that the medical entrance exam has been compromised, the top Court said that a re-test would depend on the extent of the leak

Updated - July 11, 2024 10:35 am IST

Published - July 08, 2024 03:03 pm IST

 Students at the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi, on July 8 2024. The apex court has begun the hearing for a number of petitions regarding the alleged irregularities in the administration of NEET UG 2024 exams.

Students at the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi, on July 8 2024. The apex court has begun the hearing for a number of petitions regarding the alleged irregularities in the administration of NEET UG 2024 exams. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on July 8 observed that there is no doubt that the controversy-ridden medical entrance exam NEET-UG 2024 held on May 5 was compromised due to a paper leak. 

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud said that the decision to conduct a re-test can only be taken once it is ascertained if the leak was widespread or an isolated incident. It however flagged that if the paper leak took place on social media then it is likely that it would have spread like “wildfire”. 

Also read:NEET UG 2024 Hearing LIVE updates

In the meantime, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been ordered to file a report on the status of its investigation before the next date of hearing which is slated to take place on July 11. The National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the exam, has also been directed to divulge information on the nature of the leak and the time duration between the leak and the actual conduct of the examination. 

The Bench also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra was hearing close to 30 petitions seeking a direction to conduct the exam afresh on grounds such as paper leak, OMR sheet manipulation, impersonation and cheating. However, the Centre and the NTA have told the apex Court that scrapping the exam would be “counterproductive” and “seriously jeopardise” lakhs of honest candidates in the absence of any proof of large-scale breach of confidentiality.

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

Also Read: Scrapping NEET-UG not a good idea, Centre tells Supreme Court

The live-blog has been closed
  • July 08, 2024 18:46
    WATCH: More students demand NEET retest
  • July 08, 2024 16:31
    Matter to be heard next on July 11, CBI ordered to file its status report in the meantime

    “The Court is concerned about ensuring the sanctity of the NEET test, so that such instances are not repeated. It would be necessary for the government to consider setting up a multi-disciplinary team of renowned experts. If a committee has already been setup, full details should be made available to the Court. The Court may then consider whether the committee should be allowed to proceed or the composition should be modified”, the CJI notes in the order. 

    The matter will be taken up for hearing next on Thursday i.e. on July 11. SC asks the CBI to file its status report in the meantime. 

    The hearing ends. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:21
    NTA must identify centres/cities where the leak took place: CJI

    “ The NTA must disclose – (1) the steps taken so far for identification of beneficiaries. (2) the steps which were taken by the NTA to identify centres/cities where the leak took place (3) the modalities followed for identifying the number of students who have so far been identified to be beneficiaries of the leak”, the CJI asserts. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:16
    SC asks CBI to file status report on its investigation into the paper leak

    “ The NTA is directed to clarify on the basis of information available as of date: (1) when the leak of question papers took place (2) the manner in which papers were leaked/disseminated (3) the time duration between the leak and the actual conduct of exam. On the above aspect, we are also of the view that since the investigation has been entrusted to the CBI, a status report must be filed by the IO (Investigating officer) indicating the status of the investigation till date and the material which has come to light”, the order says. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:13
    We intend to direct the NTA to make full disclosure on the nature of the leak, SC says in its order

    “Where the breach is confined to specific centres and it is possible to identify beneficiaries of wrongdoing, it may not be proper to order re-test such an exam, which has been conducted on a massive scale. While flagging the above issues, we are of the view that a view on merits would have to be deferred until further facts are placed on record before this court. We intend to direct the NTA to make full disclosure. It can broadly be classified into 3 aspects: (1) the nature of the leak (2) the places where the leak took place and (3) the lag of time between the occurrence of the leak and the conduct of the exam”, the CJI notes. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:09
    If the paper leak has affected the entirety of the process, re-exam may be necessary: CJI

    “The exam was conducted over a wide spectrum of nearly 23 lakh students. The law on whether a retest should be ordered in such a situation is based on fairly settled parameters. It will have to be scrutinized whether: (1) the alleged breach has taken place at a systemic level (2) whether the breach has affected the integrity of the entire exam process (3) whether it is possible to segregate beneficiaries of fraud from untainted students. In a situation where breach affects the entirety of the process and it is not possible to segregate beneficiaries from others, it may be necessary to order re-exam”, the order states. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:07
    FIRs registered in relation to the paper leak requires detailed consideration: SC

    “Chart indicates, students receiving a specific level of marks between 539-700 who secured a particular rank in 2022 secured lower ranks in 2023 and radically lower ranks in 2024. About 24 lakh students registered for the NEET UG exam. About 23,33,297 appeared. The exam was conducted at 4750 centres in 571 cities. The exam was also held in 14 cities overseas. The total no. of medical seats for the UG studies is 1.08 lakh. The Court has been apprised that FIRs were registered in Patna, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. Whether the FIR in relation to paper leak is confined to Patna is a matter which requires detailed consideration”, the CJI notes in the order. 

  • July 08, 2024 16:03
    Radical increase in candidates securing full marks in exam: CJI notes in order

    “In this batch, one of the prayers is for a court-mandated re-test of the exam. The NEET UG 2024 exam consisted of multiple choice questions involving 180 questions. Each question carried 4 marks making for a total of 720 marks for the exam. 45 marks were for Chemistry, Physics, Botany and Zoology. 1 negative mark per wrong answer was also envisaged. In support of the re-exam, petitioners have relied on 2 circumstances. First, candidates securing a maximum of 720 marks were confined to a few between 2020 and 2023. But in 2024, as many as 67 candidates are reported to have secured a maximum of 720 marks. There has been a radical increase. The second submission proceeds on a comparative tabulation of the ranks which were allotted to students in 2022, 2023 and 2024”, the order stipulates. 

    New Delhi: A student holds a placard demanding re-examination of NEET at the premises of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi, Monday, July 87, 2024. The apex court has begun the hearing for a number of petitions regarding the alleged irregularities in the administration of NEET UG 2024 exams. (PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary) (PTI07_08_2024_000108A)

  • July 08, 2024 15:59
    No official press release has been issued by the Bihar Police on the leak: CJI dictates order

    The CJI dictates the order in open Court which is as follows: 

    “On February 9, 2024, the NTA issued an online application form for the NEET-UG 2024. NTA conducted the exam on May 5. Results were declared on June 4. As per the record before us, it appears that on May 5, an FIR was lodged in Patna alleging a leak in the NEET UG 2024 question papers, implicating offences under sections. According to the petitioners, a press release was issued by the Economic Offences Unit (EOW) of the Bihar Police on the leak. A communication by the ADGP, EOW stated that no official press release has been issued by the Bihar Police.”

  • July 08, 2024 15:49
    CJI dictates order

    CJI is currently dictating order.

  • July 08, 2024 15:48
    CJI asks petitioners to submit their written submissions by Wednesday

    The CJI asks petitioner-lawyers to sit together and file a comprehensive note of their submissions by Wednesday, the next day of hearing. 

    ‘We will give you a day’s time. We want all petitioners’ lawyers, asking for a re-test, to give us one set of submissions on Wednesday. We want you all to sit down and give us one consolidated set of submissions not exceeding 10 pages,’ says the CJI. 

    The petitioners demand a CBI status report.

  • July 08, 2024 15:43
    Does the govt have any data analytics programme to find out if the leak was systemic? CJI asks

    “In four years past, seven students get perfect scores. This year, 67 candidates get 100%”, the CJI points out. He asks the NTA if the exam pattern this year was easier. 

    He asks if the government has any data analytics programme to find out if the leak was systemic or not. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:40
    What has the govt done to identify the beneficiaries of the leak? CJI asks NTA

    Addressing the NTA, the CJI asks - “What are the steps taken by the NTA and the govt to identify the beneficiaries of the leak? How many have been identified? More than that, we want to know the course of action taken by the government?”

    He however adds that cancellation of the NEET-UG exam is the “extreme last resort”.

    “Are there any detailed data analytics to identify suspicious markers? Let us not be in self-denial. Self-denial only makes matters worse. What steps have been taken to prevent leaks in future? There should be a multi-disciplinary committee across various fields. We are dealing with the most prestigious exam. What are we doing to tighten the exam process? Is there an audit to see what went wrong? Assuming we are not going to cancel, how do you identify the beneficiaries of the leak?”, the CJI remarks. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:37
    The fact that the sanctity of the exam is compromised is beyond question: CJI

    Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the NTA says that the top 100 candidates are distributed among 95 sectors, in 56 cities spread out in 18 states and union territories. He adds that it is a “local malpractice”. 

    To this, the CJI asserts, “One thing is very clear. [Question paper] Leak has taken place.” 

    “The fact that the sanctity of the exam is compromised is beyond question. Now how wide is the leak?”, he adds. 

    The Chief Justice underscores that it is important to determine the extent of the leak before a re-test is ordered. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:33
    This involves the lives of 23 lakh students: CJI Chandrachud

    CJI Chandrachud further enquires about the modality used to leak the question paper. “If by social media or electronic means of communication, the leak would be wide. It would have spread like wildfire”, he asserts. 

    He underscores that the issue involves nearly 23 lakh students. 

    “Suppose somebody registered in Ahmedabad suddenly goes to Patna to write the NEET, it is suspicious”, the CJI adds. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:29
    What kind of transport was arranged to take the prepared question papers to and fro from the printing press? CJI asks NTA

    The Chief Justice asks a series of questions to the NTA: 

    “When were the two questions booklets sent to these cities? How were they sent to these cities? Were they lodged in the SBI/Canara Bank lockers in each of these cities? Where are the question papers prepared?” 

    The NTA responds by saying that the question papers were prepared in Delhi by two groups of experts. 

    The CJI then asks when the question papers were prepared and what transport was arranged to take the question papers to and fro from the printing press.

    “Why we are asking is that if the time lag is very short between the leak and the exam, then the leak was limited. If the time lag is big between the leak and the exam, then there was time for the malaise to spread across the country”, the CJI adds. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:26
    Is the leak of the question paper an admitted fact?: CJI asks

    Addressing the contentions, CJI Chandrachud asks - “So we take it now that the leak of question paper is an admitted fact?” 

    In response, the petitioners point out that initial investigations show that lapses in putting in place protocol has led to the paper leak. 

    “What part of the Bihar Police investigation shows that the entire exam was hit by the malaise?”, the CJI asks. 

    The petitioners respond by saying that the Bihar police’s probe has shown that groups of students were asked to memorise the answers. “We have the video of the Telegram channel”, they add. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:22
    6 FIRs registered in Patna, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jharkhand: Petitioners seek re-examination

    Seeking a re-examination, the petitioners argue that beneficiaries of the fraud cannot be identified and segregated from the untainted. They point out that the Bihar police have admitted that the NTA has failed to follow standard SOPs and that the fault is at a systemic level. 

    “ The NTA reply says it is still not sure whether the fraud was at a systemic level or individual one. Whether it is across the country or limited to two or three States”, the lawyer representing the petitioners say. 

    The Court is further apprised that 6 FIRs have been registered in Patna, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:17
    On the eve of the exam, a Telegram channel outed the questions and answers: Petitioners tell SC

    Petitioners apprise the Bench that the results of the NEET-UG exam were supposed to be out on the NTA website on June 14, but came out on June 4. 

    “On the eve of May 5, a Telegram channel outed the questions and answers. 67 candidates got perfect 720/720 scores. This was unprecedented”, the petitioners contend. 

  • July 08, 2024 15:12
    SC hearing pleas on NEET UG 2024

    A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, is hearing more than 35 petitions challenging the irregularities, paper leak and other issues in the NEET-UG examination held this year. 

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