'We take responsibility': Education Minister announces panel to probe irregularities in NEET, UGC-NET exams

Pradhan assured that strict action would be taken against any NTA officials found guilty of misconduct.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024. Photo | PTI

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday announced the formation of a high-level panel to review and improve the functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA), amid the ongoing row over paper leaks and irregularities surrounding the NEET-UG and UGC-NET exams.

Earlier in the day, dozens of students from different universities and members of various students' outfits protested outside the MoE and Dharmendra Pradhan's residence in Delhi against the cancellation of the UGC-NET examination and irregularities in the NEET.

When asked if the government plans to cancel NEET UG exams similar to UGC-NET, Pradhan emphasised that isolated incidents of malpractice should not overshadow the achievements of the many students who rightfully cleared the examination.

Pradhan's response comes even as the opposition parties continue to demand the re-conducting of NEET exam, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserting that the Opposition will raise the issue in Parliament.

He assured that strict action would be taken against any NTA officials found guilty of misconduct. "Let us have faith in our systems; no irregularities or malpractices will be tolerated by the government," Pradhan said, urging opposition parties not to politicise the issue.

The NEET-UG examination is a crucial test conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH, and other related courses in government and private institutions across India.

The examination was conducted on May 5 across 4,750 centres, with approximately 24 lakh candidates appearing. Results, expected on June 14, were declared early on June 4 after the completion of answer sheet evaluations.

An unprecedented 67 students scored a perfect 720, raising suspicions about irregularities, particularly since six of these top scorers were from a single centre in Haryana's Faridabad.

A week earlier, Pradhan had rejected allegations of a paper leak in the medical entrance exam, claiming there was "no evidence of it."

Denying any corruption or inefficiency on the part of the NTA in announcing the results, Pradhan, on June 13, said, “There is no evidence of a paper leak in NEET-UG. The allegations of corruption in the NTA are unfounded; it is a very credible body. There is no inefficiency."

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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Pradhan also responded to the cancellation of the UGC-NET examination, saying that the decision had been taken following a paper leak on the Daknet. He reaffirmed the government's commitment to holding zero-error exams and said that measures are being taken to rectify the system.

Pradhan also said that the announcement for a fresh UGC-NET exam will be made soon, for which information will be shared separately.

"We take responsibility and are committed to safeguarding the interests of students," Pradhan said, highlighting the government's dedication to improving the examination process and ensuring its integrity.

The Education Ministry, late on Wednesday night, ordered the cancellation of UGC-NET exam following input that its integrity had been compromised.

UGC-NET is a test to determine the eligibility of Indian nationals for the award of junior research fellowships, appointments as assistant professors, and admission to PhD in Indian universities and colleges.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses a press conference regarding the alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results and UGC-NET 2024 exam cancellation, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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