NEET probe: Mobile phones, documents recovered from 13 arrested, Bihar government tells SC

Bihar government said an FIR was registered in Patna under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and arrested the 13 accused.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Bihar government filed a short affidavit on Friday, informing the Supreme Court that it started probing the allegations of paper leak, malpractices and other irregularities about the conduct of the NEET-UG examination on May 5 and arrested 13 accused persons in the case so far.

Prosecuting agencies recovered mobile phones and other incriminating materials from them.

Standing counsel for Bihar government, Manish Kumar, told this newspaper that in view of the fact that the investigation was now being carried out by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), the present affidavit was being filed without details of the outcome of the investigation carried out so far by the State agencies since this might affect the pending investigation by the CBI.

A three-judge bench of the top court, led by the Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, would slated to hear on July 08, Monday, more than 60 petitions challenging the irregularities, paper leak and other issues in the NEET-UG examination, seeking various directions including CBI probe and the exam to be held afresh.

These 60 petitions have been filed by students, and various educational institutions. A group of 20 students, who had appeared in the medical entrance exam, filed the plea in the Supreme Court, seeking a direction for scrapping of the NEET-UG 2024 exam and an apex court-monitored probe by the CBI or any other independent agency into the alleged irregularities in the test.

Bihar government said that the police registered FIR in Shastrinagar Police Station in Patna under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy), 407 (Criminal breach of trust) and others and arrested these 13 accused for their alleged role in the exam.

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"The State agencies carried out detailed and scientific investigation. Some of the accused person were found be involved in other similar offences in past. Even the candidates were questioned. 4 candidates were also arrested who admitted their involvement in illegalities," the affidavit of Bihar said.

On May 17, the case was transferred to the Economic Offences Unit, Patna. Firstly the District Police and then EOU carried out the investigation. In view of seriousness and gravity of the offence and the possible link attached to other States, an eight member SIT (special investigation team) has been formed on May 20, under the Superintendent of Police, to investigate this case, Bihar government told the apex court.

The progress of the investigation was being regularly reviewed and monitored by the Deputy Inspector General, Additional Director General of Police, EOU, it said.

"EOU found involvement of many more persons and even involvement of accused persons from Jharkhand. The EOU detained 6 additional suspects for questioning in the intervening night of June 20 and 21. Thereafter two accused persons (one out of 6 suspects questioned) were arrested by the EOU also after a day," the affidavit said.

The State Government has also submitted a report on June 20, to the Ministry of Education, Department of Higher Education, Bihar said.

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On June 23, the CBI requested Bihar to transfer the pending case to CBI in view of some complaint made to the CBI and letter sent by the Government of India, Ministry of Education. The State Government, responding to it, issued notification and accorded its consent for taking over of the investigation of the case by the CBI, Bihar government said in its affidavit.

"The matter is transferred to the CBI by the Government of India on June 23. The CBI immediately takes charge of the case being investigated by the State agencies. All the case records were handed over to the CBI on June 24," it said.

It is to be noted that NEET-UG examination, conducted by NTA, and is the process for getting admitted into MBBS, BDS and AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

Yesterday, the Central government told the Supreme Court, through an affidavit, that the exam held on May 5 should not be cancelled, as it would seriously jeopardise lakhs of honest candidates who attempted it. 

Similarly, the NTA (National Testing Agency) which conducts the exam, also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court opposing the cancellation of the NEET-UG exam. "The alleged malpractices are only in Patna and Godhra centres and the entire exam shall not be cancelled based on individual instances," the NTA said.

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