NEET paper scam and other irregularities

Omkar Dattatray

It is very disturbing and sad that the prestigious NEET examination is under thick cloud as there are serious allegations of question paper leak coupled with other allegations of irregularities against NEET. This has resulted in the erosion of the image and standing of NEET-UG among the students and the general public. There is need to restore the lost credibility of this premier institution of National Testing Agency which is empowered to conduct the NEET-UG examination .The aspiring candidates and the public spirited people have leveled serious allegations of question paper scam and other irregularities against NEET examination and NTA. There is rightly some hanky pinky in the conduct of the NEET examination .A large number of more than 24 lakh candidates have written the examination on 5th of May in the centers all over the country and the results of NEET were declared on 4th June proponed by 10 days and surely there have been some underhand means applied in the NEET examination and in the declaration of its result and in the making and preparation of the result. The fact that the result of the NEET examination 2024 was declared 10 days before the day of declaration of the result already fixed. It definitely points to something fishy in the matter .It is very piquant that this time 67 students were said to have scored 100 percent marks and to be specific 67 students got 720 marks out of 720 and these 67 candidates were declared to have got first all India ranking and this is very surprising. As against more than 24 lakh candidates who wrote the NEET-UG examination, there are only one lakh vacancies of doctors across the country. Since the matter is directly related with the future of 24 lakh candidates and indirectly associated with crores of the people, there is utmost need to investigate the allegations leveled against NEET examination as well as against the NTA at the earliest, so that the image of NEET and NTA is maintained .There is need and demand for re-examination of NEET in order to give justice to lakhs of the candidates who have toiled a lot and have burned mid night oil to pass the NEET examination in order to successful and pursue the medical courses and serve the ailing humanity .There are allegations that money has also changed hands and a good number of candidates have paid bribes to the officials of NTA in lakhs to get question papers of NEET -UG exam in advance and it needs a through probe to unearth the truth. There are strong protests going on in various parts of the country and Delhi as well to draw the attention of the government towards the paper leak scam and other irregularities in the conduct of NEET and the matter has also pending in high courts and Supreme Court.A number of petitions have been filed by the candidates against the irregularities in NEET. At the government level there is urgent need to investigate and probe the matter and set it right to save the careers of the lakhs of the students .The agitating candidates have met Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and it is learnt that the minister has told the candidates that the matter is sub-judice and the verdict of the Supreme Court should be obeyed by all concerned including the agitating students and the government .He has also told the agitating candidates that there is no evidence of any irregularity in the NEET. The silence of the previous Modi government about this scam had got rippled in the recent general elections of 2024 and this also has contributed to the poor results of the BJP in these elections. .Congress questions PM’s silence over the NEET question paper scam and demands that the government should take serious cognizance of the matter since it is related with the future of the lakhs of the students .As per the marking scheme ,a candidate gets 4 marks for a correct answer and loses one mark for a wrong answer .If a question is not attempted by a candidate ,then no mark is rewarded for it.However two NEET exam candidates scored 719 and 718 marks with AIR 68 and 69 respectively. Suspiciously similar roll numbers ,sudden change in result declaration date, and allegations of paper leaks have raised eyebrows about the NEET-UG results. The NEET-UG exam which was conducted on May 5 and saw the participation of more than 24 lakh candidates ,has recently stirred a controversy after the results were declared. The results of the exam were scheduled to be released on June 14,but were instead released 10 days earlier on June 4.The key reasons as to why the NEET-UG results also had sparked a controversy.1-67 Students scored perfect marks getting 720.2-The students scored 718,719 marks is impossible according to the NEET marking scheme.3—Numerous NEET-UG toppers are from the same examination centre.5—Allegations of NEET question papers leaks. Online registration for NEET -UG 2024 started on Feb 9,2024 and were extended till 16th March .Everything was well and good up to that point .All of a sudden ,on April 9,NTA decided to re-open the online registration for 2 days from April 9 to 10 due to ‘stakeholder’s requests. ‘The question arises why would you re-open the registrations when you have already done it 2 times? And that too ,a whole month later.?NEET-UG exam was held on May 5 when on the same day there were allegations about the question paper being leaked .In a centre in Rajasthan ,students reported that the centre gave them the question paper with pre-marked answers than took it back .Hindi medium students received English paper.NTA clarified it immediately on the same day that exam was re-conducted for 120 students .It is also something fishy as to how and why the results of the exam were declared soon ,about 10 days in advance and also mentioned how eight students from the same examination centre in Haryana who secured AIR 62 to 69 ,had largely similar roll numbers .The unusual fact that 67 students in a row on the list secured a perfect 720 score ,but after that ,two candidates scored 719 and 718 marks with AIR 68 and 69 respectively ,which is not mathematically possible according to the marking scheme of the medical exam. The National Testing Agency -NTA responded on the matter stating that they applied a normalization formula to account for the time lost during the exam ,resulting in some candidates receiving scores of 718 or 719.About the earlier allegations of the NEET paper leak also, NTA clarified and claimed them to be completely baseless and without any ground .Asserting that every question paper has been accounted for, the NTA said that the purported images of the question paper circulated on social media have no relation to the actual paper .It said ,it has been ascertained from NTA’s security protocols and Standard Operating Procedures that the social media posts pointing towards any paper leak are completely baseless and without any ground .The NTA announced on June 8,that the Education Ministry has set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to over 1,500 candidates in the NEET-UG exam .A write petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of India requesting to re-conduct the NEET-UG 2024 exam .The Supreme Court is hearing three petitions challenging the grant of grace marks and the suspicions of paper leak. The centre informed the SC that the decision to grant grace marks to 1,563 NEET -UG 2024 candidates for admission to MBBS ,BDS ,and other courses has been rescinded .These candidates will have the opportunity to opt for a re-test scheduled for June 23.The court ,however, declined to halt the admissions counseling process .If any of the 1,536 candidates choose not to participate in the re-test ,their previous marks ,excluding the grace marks, will be considered for result purposes.NTA decided to re-conduct the NEET-UG 2024 on 23June 2024 for 1563 candidates who had experienced time loss during the originally scheduled examination on 05 May 2024.The honorable SC is ceased of the matter and it will go into the demand of NEET-UG exam re-test and it will also decide on the demand of CBI investigation into the NEET paper scam and the SC has fixed the next date of hearing the pleas seeking CBI probe ,transfer of cases from High Courts on July 8.In brief Medical entrance exam NEET-UG with over 24 lakh candidates appearing for it has become a centre of controversy over allegations of several irregularities and has triggered protests across the country and a political slugfest. The NEET-UG exam paper leak case has been politicized by the opposition parties including congress .Candidates demand that investigation in the matter of NEET-UG paper leak and scam should be done under the supervision of the Supreme Court. This case is gaining momentum and there is increase in the protests all over India and government should take cognizance of this serious matter and investigate it in a time bound manner .Now that the several petitions are pending in SC ,it is expected that justice will be given to the large number of candidates and the image of NEET-UG and NTA will be restored.
(The author is a columnist, social and KP activist)

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