'Even if there is 0.001% negligence, it should be dealt with': SC in NEET-UG exam row

Stressing on timely action, the top court said the pleas would come up for hearing on July 8 along with other pending petitions, including those which have sought a direction to conduct the exam afresh.
Students stage a protest demanding re-examination of NEET-UG 2024 results.
Students stage a protest demanding re-examination of NEET-UG 2024 results.Express Photo

NEW DELHI: While hearing a fresh batch of pleas, relating to the alleged paper leaks and malpractices in NEET-UG 2024, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the NTA if the agency had committed any negligence/mistake in conducting the NEET-UG 2024 exam, then it should admit it and rectify these.

"As an agency, you must act fair. If there is a mistake, say yes, this is a mistake. If there is 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with. All these matters ought not to be treated as adversarial litigation," a two-judge vacation bench of the top court, led by Justice Vikram Nath and Justice SVN Bhatti, observed.

The bench of the top court, while saying tough, also issued notice and sought a detailed response from the National Testing Agency (NTA) and Centre on these fresh pleas relating to alleged paper leaks and malpractices in NEET-UG, 2024.

During the hearing, the apex court told lawyers appearing for Centre and NTA that children have prepared for the exams and "we cannot forget their labour" for preparing for these said exams.

The top court passed these observations on Tuesday while hearing a fresh set of pleas filed by Amulya Vijaya Pinapati, Nitin Vijay and others against the Union of India (UOI), NTA, Nation Medical Commission (NMC), Medical Counselling Committee (MCC).

The apex court also, in a humanitarian approach, told the Centre and NTA not to take these petitions filed against NEET-UG as adversarial litigation.

While asking the petitioners to keep the arguments close to their heart, the top court asked them, "You can argue all of this on July 8, which is the next date of hearing in the case."

"We have issued notice and let the respondents file their reply," the top court said and fixed the matter for further hearing to July 8, when the SC would open after summer vacations.

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Advocate Kanu Agrawal, appearing for the Union, said that let there be no opinion formed till we file a counter.

To this, Justice Vikram Nath, said, we expect timely action from you (NTA). Let us hear the petitions on July 8.

Advocate for the petitioners, said that we could not forget the labour put in by the students. "Just imagine a doctor treating who has passed like this and needs to be checked how many mobiles were used etc," the lawyer argued.

Now the SC would hear the matter in detail, on July 8, when the authorities need to inform about the enquiry to it. It asked the authorities to thoroughly deal with the complaints filed by many students of irregularities and other related allegations.

Recently, a group of 20 students, who had appeared in the medical entrance exam filed a fresh joint petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a direction for scrapping 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 held on May 5.

"The sanctity of the examination is questionable given the confirmed cases of leakage of question paper, concerning which FIRs have been lodged and several persons have been arrested, as per the media reports," the plea, drawn by advocate Dheeraj Singh, said.

The petitioners also sought direction from the respondents (Union of India, NTA and Others) to take effective steps to ensure transparency and fairness in the examination process and to address the concerns about fraudulent practices, leakage of question papers, impersonation, unfair means, etc. in NEET(UG) in future.

Students stage a protest demanding re-examination of NEET-UG 2024 results.
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Recently, a two-judge vacation bench also sought a response from NTA within two weeks, raising similar issues of malpractices and irregularities in the NEET-UG, before it, which are listed on July 8.

Meanwhile in another development in the same issue, the apex court also issued notice on a transfer petition filed by the NTA seeking to transfer to the top court a petition filed in a High Court alleging paper leak and irregularities in the conduct of NEET-UG, 2024.

While tagging the NTA's transfer petition along with other petitions pending before it, the top court fixed the matter for further hearing to July 8, when it would hear the transfer plea along with the pleadings of a CBI probe.

Recently, the NTA had told the apex court that scorecards of 1563 candidates who "got grace marks" in the NEET-UG 2024, will be cancelled and the students will have the option to reappear for the exam.

NTA had also further elaborated to the apex court that a committee has been constituted to review the results of over these 1,563 candidates who were awarded “grace marks” to compensate for the loss of time suffered while appearing for the exam.

It is to ne 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. 

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