NEET Controversy: Lawyer urges SC to list plea challenging results; seeks NEET ‘paper leak’ probe

Petition also requested the Supreme Court to stay NEET counselling to be held on June 12, order re-examination


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students federation of india (SFI) members holding protest at Ministry of Education in New Delhi. (Image: SFI)students federation of india (SFI) members holding protest at Ministry of Education in New Delhi. (Image: SFI)

Sanjay | June 10, 2024 | 01:40 PM IST

NEW DELHI: A lawyer representing 10 candidates who appeared in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2024 has urged the Supreme Court seeking an urgent listing of their writ petition challenging the NEET-UG 2024 results that have been mired in controversies of ‘question paper leak’, grace marks, and 67 candidates bagging the perfect score. The petition has also sought a re-examination.

Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara has written to the Supreme Court officials seeking an urgent listing of the case before a vacation bench on Monday and also sought an investigation into the “NEET question paper leak” ahead of the NEET UG 2024 counselling session.

Shivangi Mishra and other students who took the NEET UG 2024 had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on June 5. The petition highlights the NEET controversy which has been raging online ever since National Testing Agency (NTA) declared NEET-UG 2024 results on June 4. Sixty-seven candidates, including 8 from the same Haryana centre, had secured a perfect score of 720 and claimed All India Rank (AIR) 1.

NTA director general Subodh Kumar on Saturday announced that a four-member committee would be formed to review the results of over 1,500 NEET UG 2024 candidates who were awarded “grace marks” to compensate for the “loss of time”. Former UPSC chairman Pradeep Kumar Joshi is the head of a four-member committee that will submit a report by Tuesday, according to a Dainik Bhaskar report. Joshi is currently holding the post of chairperson of the NTA Governing Body.

The summer vacation of the apex court commenced May 20 and it will resume its sitting on 8 July.

NEET UG 2024: Supreme Court case

Nedumpara, in his letter dated June 8 to the Supreme Court secretary-general, registrar and deputy registrar in charge of listing, said he represented Shivangi Mishra and other NEET UG 2024 candidates who have sought a probe into the NEET question paper leak case “which has resulted in candidates from particular centres securing full marks and the alleged denial of admission to meritorious students.”

The petition has sought a “re-consideration of the results of NEET 2024, stay of counselling and other reliefs”. It pointed to a “paper leak detrimental to the other students who had honestly and diligently prepared” and sought apex court’s intervention to withhold the result of NEET UG 2024 exam held on May 5.

“The immediate relief I seek is the stay of the counselling/interview which is scheduled as early as on June 12 in certain colleges. 24 lakh students participated in the NEET examination and the large-scale fraud which the NEET exam has proven to be is a matter concerning their very career. It is also a matter of great public interest,” Nedumpara wrote to the Supreme Court.

On May 17, the Supreme Court declined to grant a stay on NEET UG 2024 exam results. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra said it cannot halt a nationwide exam but issued a notice to the central government regarding the plea and requested its response.

NEET UG 2024: Other court cases

Another petition has been filed by Abdullah Mohammed Faiz and Dr Shaik Roshan Mohiddin, natives of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh respectively, in the Supreme Court seeking recall of the NEET-UG 2024 results and the conduct of a fresh examination. The petitioners belong to the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) and claim to work for the benefit of students. The petitioners also seek a stay on NEET UG counsellling and constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the alleged malpractices in NEET UG 2024 exam.

Earlier, the Calcutta High Court had also sought the response of the NTA on a plea alleging irregularities in the conduct of the exam.

The Delhi High Court on June 7 sought the NTA response to a petition filed by a NEET-UG candidate raising concerns over a question in the answer key that had two correct answers. A vacation bench of Justice DK Sharma directed the NTA's counsel to seek instructions regarding the petition, which argues that equal marks should be awarded to candidates who did not attempt the question, similar to those who attempted either of the two correct answers.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the alleged irregularities in NEET-UG saying it is a serious matter concerning the future of the country's youths. Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav has also demanded the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance in the “NEET scam”, conduct a thorough investigation and give strict punishment to the guilty.

NEET UG protests

Different students organisations, including the All India Students Association (AISA), SIO, Students Federation of India (SFI), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and National Students Union of India (NSUI), are staging protests in the national capital against NTA and demanding a NEET re-examination. The protests are being organised at the Ministry of Education, NTA and Jantar Mantar.

Several opposition parties are also extending support to the aggrieved NEET students. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi assured students that he would become their voice in Parliament and strongly raise issues related to their future.

Also read ‘NEET 2024 results prove our principled opposition to exam; eradicate this malady’: MK Stalin

NEET results controversy

The NEET results have triggered massive controversy this year and now a panel has been set up to review grace marks given to 1,563 candidates to make up for “loss of time” during the exam. The NEET cut-offs have risen and there are as many as 67 NEET toppers in place of the usual one or two. This has prompted court cases and thousands of students to allege a ‘NEET scam’ and demand re-examination.

A total of 67 students have secured AIR 1 this year. These candidates have scored 720 marks and 99.9971285 percentile in NEET exam 2024. Out of 24,06,079 registered candidates, 23,33,297 appeared in the exam. There are a total of 1,08,940 MBBS seats (latest data available) in 706 medical colleges across the country. Out of 23,33,297, a total of 13,16,268 candidates qualified the NEET UG 2024 even though the cut-offs witnessed a steep hike. The NEET UG cut-off 2024 for the general category candidates has gone up from 720-137 last year to 720-164 this year.

The NTA attributed this year’s higher success rate to several factors, including an easier exam, an increase in registrations, a question with two correct answers, and grace marks given due to disruptions during the examination period. The NTA has denied any irregularities and said the changes made in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks and grace marks for losing time at the examination centres were some of the reasons behind students scoring higher marks this year.

The NEET UG 2024 exam was conducted on May 5 across 557 cities in India and 14 cities beyond the country. The provisional answer key was released on May 29 and the objection window was closed on June 1. The final answer key was issued on June 3. NTA released the results on June 4. NEET 2024 scores will be used for admissions to MBBS, BDS, and other medical programmes.

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