NEET: Centre Plans June 23 Re-test for 1,563 Aspirants

Centre rules out paper leak, Congress demands probe

NEW DELHI: Amid the raging row over NEET, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the decision to give grace marks to 1,563 NEET-UG 2024 candidates for admission to MBBS, BDS and other courses has been cancelled. They will be given the option to take a re-test on June 23.

The results of the Neet-UG were announced by the NTA on June 4, against the anticipated timeline of June 14.
The Centre informed the top court that "if the candidates, out of the 1,563, do not wish to take up the retest, then their earlier marks, without the grace marks, will be given for the purposes of the results. The results of the re-test will be declared on June 30 and counselling for admissions in MBBS, BDS and other courses will start on July 6.”
Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan dismissed allegations of a paper leak in the medical entrance examination, saying there "is no evidence" of it.
"There is no evidence of a paper leak in NEET-UG. The allegations of corruption in the NTA are unfounded, it is a credible body. It conducts exams for more than 50 lakh school students annually, besides exams at the higher education level," he said.
The Congress, however, demanded a top court-monitored probe into the issue and the removal of the chief of the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the NEET-UG.
During the hearing in the top court, a vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta made it clear that the admission of successful candidates to medical colleges and other institutions will be subject to the outcome of the petitions, which have sought reliefs like the cancellation of the examination held on May 5 on grounds of question paper leaks and other malpractices.
The bench noted the decision to cancel the grace marks awarded to 1,563 candidates as "fairly reasonable".
At the outset, lawyer Kanu Agarwal, appearing for the Centre and the NTA, said the committee set up to look into the grievances decided on June 12 to "allay the fears of the students". It was of the view that the grace marks be withdrawn and replaced with an option of re-test for these 1,563 candidates, which will be conducted on June 23.
Agarwal said the committee was of the view that the award of grace marks on grounds of loss of time while taking the test resulted in a "skewed situation" as it had to be limited only to the questions that remained unattempted.
In its order, the top court said: "According to the recommendations, it has been suggested that the scorecards of the affected 1,563 candidates issued on June 4 will stand cancelled and withdrawn. These affected 1,563 candidates will be informed of their actual scores without compensatory marks.”
The apex court said: “Further, re-examination will be conducted for the affected 1,563 candidates. The results of the affected candidates who do not wish to appear for the re-examination will be declared on their actual marks without compensation obtained by them in the examination held on May 5 and the marks obtained by the candidates who will appear in the retest will be considered and their marks based on the examination held on May 5 will be discarded.
After taking charge as the Union education minister for the second time on Thursday, Pradhan defended the NTA, asserting that the government is ensuring no student is at a disadvantage.
“If these candidates do not wish to take the re-test, then their earlier marks, sans the grace marks, will be given for the purpose of results. The grace marks that were awarded earlier were not at the whims and fancies of the NTA but were based on a Supreme Court formula; there is a basis to those calculations. If there are certain anomalies, those will be rectified and we will ensure that no student is at a disadvantage," Pradhan said.
The NTA has been facing flak amid allegations of irregularities and the inflation of marks in the medical entrance examination. The education ministry last week set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to 1,563 students to compensate them for "loss of time" due to a delay in the commencement of the examination at certain centres.
"The panel was headed by former UPSC chairman Pradeep Kumar Joshi and included the National Medical Commission (NMC) secretary, besides others. Each and every grievance has been reviewed and then only the panel made its recommendations," Pradhan added.
During the hearing on petitions against NEET irregularities on Tuesday, the apex court noted that the sanctity of NEET-UG 2024, had been affected. The NTA, however, denied the charge. The top court, however, refused to stay the counselling process for admissions.
The Congress on Thursday sought the removal of the NTA director-general and claimed that the Centre's attitude towards the ongoing demand for an inquiry into the Neet examination is "irresponsible and insensitive".
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that in the last 10 years, the Modi government has ruined the future of crores of youth through paper leaks and rigging.
Kharge said: "Grace marks were not the only problem in the NEET exam. There has been rigging, papers have been leaked and corruption has taken place. The future of 24 lakh students appearing in the NEET examination is at stake due to the actions of the Modi government."
A nexus of exam centres and coaching centres has been formed, where the game of "pay money, get paper" is being played, he alleged.
"The Modi government cannot escape its responsibility by placing the responsibility of its actions on the shoulders of the NTA. There should be a CBI investigation into the entire NEET scam. If the Modi government is not ready for a CBI inquiry then the Congress party demands a fair inquiry under the supervision of the Supreme Court," Kharge said in a post.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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