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NEET Students, Parents on Dharna, SC Clears Re-examination for 1,563 Candidates

NEET Students, Parents on Dharna, SC Clears Re-examination for 1,563 Candidates

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 13: In the face of accusing fingers raised against the National Testing Agency (NTA) for the alleged goof ups in conducting this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Undergraduate 2024 (NEET-UG 2024), the Centre on Thursday defended the government-appointed body and sought to sort out the controversy only by re-conducting the examinations for just 1,563 students.

The suggestion was also approved by a vacation bench of the Supreme Court which was told by the NTA that the problem was only of 1,563 candidates who had appeared in the NEET test at six centres where for some reasons a wrong set of question papers were first distributed which were withdrawn later and the correct set distributed after some time. Since the candidates in these centres had lost some precious time to answer the questions, they were compensated with grace marks.

The agency told the apex court that it had received a suggestion from an expert committee to withdraw the grace marks and give the candidates another opportunity by holding a re-examination. Accordingly, the NTA has decided to conduct a re-examination only for these 1,563 students on June 23 and declare their results on or before June 30 so that the counselling of the successful students scheduled from July 6 remained unaffected. Those of the students do not want to appear in the re-examinations, their score-sheet minus the grace marks would be considered.

A large number of NEET aspirants and their parents launched a dharna at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding re-examination for all to re-establish confidence in the NTA. Many of the coaching centres in the country also alleged corruption by some agencies and claimed that more than 38,000 undeserving candidates had been surreptitiously helped to secure unusually high marks to get admission in the government-run medical colleges.

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court the same. The grace marks of 1563 students who appeared for will be cancelled and they will have the option to reappear for the exam. The court, after hearing the Centre’s decision, said that a re-exam will be conducted for the 1,563 students, which is scheduled to be held on June 23.

“A subsequent Committee has made recommendations after deliberations which are placed before us. According to recommendation, scorecards of 1563 candidates will be cancelled and stand withdrawn. A re-exam will be conducted for these 1563 candidates. The results of those who don’t wish to appear will be based on their actual marks without compensatory marks,” the Vacation Bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta said. “For those who appear for re-test, the May 5 scores will be discarded,” the court added.

The NTA immediately afterwards on Thursday notified that the retest would be held on June 23. The results of the re-exam are expected to be out before June 30 to ensure that the counselling scheduled for July 6 remained unaffected.

Speaking on the issue later, the Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said action would be taken against the culprits in the entire NEET results mess. “The government had put forward its stand before the SC today. It’s about 1,500 students. The government is taking this issue seriously,” he said. Mr Pradhan also refuted allegations of leakage of question paper as alleged by some students in Bihar and some other centres or there was any other irregularity involved in conducting the examination.

Petitioner and CEO of Physics Wallah Alakh Pandey said the recent mess has created a trust issue with the NTA. “Today, NTA accepted in front of the Supreme Court that the grace marks given to the students were wrong and they agree that this created dissatisfaction among the students and they agreed that they will remove the grace marks. Re-examination of those 1,563 students who got grace marks will be done on 23rd June or the original score without grace marks would be accepted by the students. NTA agreed in front of the SC that the grace marks they awarded were wrong. The question is if the NTA has other discrepancies that we are unaware of. So, there is a trust issue with NTA. The issue of paper leak is open and hearing on that will continue,” Pandey said.

On questions being raised on the role of the NTA, Pradhan said, “It was after an SC order only in past that the NTA was constituted.” The court had on June 11 issued a notice to the NTA on a plea demanding a retest for the NEET-UG 2024 owing to suspected paper leaks and irregularities. The plea submitted by ten NEET candidates was examined by the Supreme Court’s vacation bench. The vacation bench had refused to defer the counselling of qualified candidates for admission to MBBS, BDS, and other programmes.

The NEET-UG 2024 was held on May 5 for around 24 lakh students and the results were announced on June 4, much ahead of its anticipated release date of June 14. Suspicions were aroused when the NEET results showed that 67 individuals, six of whom came from the same or nearby testing centre, achieved a perfect score of 720 marks.

After students filed petitions in the high courts, the NTA had formed a Grievance Redressal Committee comprising examination and academic experts who reviewed the complaints based on factual reports and CCTV footage. They confirmed the loss of exam time and compensated 1,563 candidates with grace marks based on the normalisation formula formulated by the Supreme Court in its June 13, 2018 judgment in a CLAT exam case.

The revised marks for these 1,563 candidates ranged from 20 to 720, with two candidates scoring 718 and 719 due to compensatory marks. According to an NTA press release, “The loss of examination time was ascertained and such candidates were compensated with marks based on their answering efficiency and time lost, as per the mechanism/ formula established by the Hon’ble Apex Court, vide its judgment dated 13.06.2018”. It also said, “1,563 candidates were compensated…and the revised marks of such candidates vary from – 20 to 720… Amongst these, the score of two candidates also happens to be 718 and 719 marks respectively due to compensatory marks.”

With more students taking the test this year, the NTA has kept the cut-offs unusually high this time. “The cut-off scores are determined based on the overall performance of candidates each year. The increase in cut-off reflects the competitive nature of the examination and the higher performance standards achieved by the candidates this year,” the NTA release said.

Commenting on the Centre’s decision to conduct a re-test for the students who got grace marks, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said NEET should be scrapped. Adding that none of the 1,563 students were from Tamil Nadu, he said, “Only students from Rajasthan, Gujarat , Haryana have been given grace marks by the NTA.”

“We will not be approaching the court, but will continue to oppose NEET. We demand the Union Government to scrap NEET following these irregularities. Now not only TN is opposing NEET, there are several other states opposing the exam,” Subramanian added.





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