SC to hear pleas related to NEET-UG 2024 on July 18

New Delhi: Amid the festering row over the conduct of the medical entrance exams, the Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned till July 18 the hearing of a clutch of petitions seeking cancellation, re-test and probe into the alleged malpractices of NEET-UG 2024 as the responses of the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) were yet to be received by some parties.
The apex court noted that separate affidavits filed on Wednesday by the Centre and the NTA, which conducts the all-India medical test, have not been received by counsel for some of the petitioners. "The further hearing shall be on Thursday (July 18)," a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said.
Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, however, said they have served their affidavit to the counsel for the parties.
During the brief hearing, counsel for the petitioners sought listing of the pleas on July 15, but Mehta said he will be unavailable that day.
The bench said it has received a status report from the CBI on the progress made in the probe into alleged irregularities in the conduct of Neet-UG 2024.
In an additional affidavit filed in the apex court on Wednesday, the Centre said data analytics of the results of NEET-UG 2024 was conducted by IIT Madras, which found there was neither any indication of "mass malpractice" nor a localised set of candidates benefiting from it and scoring abnormally high marks.
The government's assertion assumes significance in view of the observations made by the top court on July 8 that it may order a re-test if there were large-scale malpractices in holding the exam on May 5.
The Centre's fresh affidavit said experts from IIT Madras have found that the marks distribution follows the bell-shaped curve that is witnessed in any large-scale examination, indicating no abnormality. A bell curve describes the shape of data conforming to a normal distribution.
The affidavit said that for 2024-25, the counselling process for undergraduate seats will be conducted in four rounds starting in the third week of July.
The NTA also filed a separate additional affidavit on similar lines. It said it has carried out an analysis of the distribution of marks at the national, state and city levels.
"This analysis indicates that the distribution of marks is quite normal and there seems to be no extraneous factor that would influence the distribution of marks," the NTA said in its affidavit, which also gave details of the system in place for ensuring confidential printing of question papers, their transportation and their distribution.
While hearing the pleas on July 8, the top court had observed that the sanctity of the Neet-UG 2024 has been "breached". Observing that a re-test may be ordered if the entire process was affected, the bench had sought details from the NTA and the CBI, including the timing and manner of the alleged paper leak and the number of wrongdoers, to understand the extent of irregularities claimed by the petitioners.
The apex court is hearing a batch of pleas related to NEET-UG 2024, including those alleging irregularities and malpractices and seeking a direction to conduct it afresh. Over 23.33-lakh students had taken the test on May 5 at 4,750 centres in 571 cities, including 14 cities overseas.
The Centre and the NTA, in their earlier affidavits filed in the apex court, had said that scrapping the exam will be "counterproductive" and "seriously jeopardise" lakhs of honest candidates in the absence of any proof of a large-scale breach of confidentiality.
The 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.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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