SC reschedules hearing on NEET-UG to 18 July amid filing delays

The union govt claims that there was no case of “mass malpractice” or localised set of candidates having benefited in the NEET-UG 2024 paper leak

SC was scheduled to hear the NEET case on 11 July (photo: PTI)
SC was scheduled to hear the NEET case on 11 July (photo: PTI)

NH Digital

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 11 July adjourned the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Undergraduate exam 2024 (NEET UG 2024) to 18 July. The Court was scheduled to hear the case on 11 July, but the delay in filing affidavits prompted the Court to reschedule.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud with Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that it will hear the case on 18 July because some of the parties had not examined the replies filed in the case by the Central government and the National Testing Agency (NTA).

The bench is also hearing a separate plea of over 50 successful Gujarat-based NEET-UG candidates seeking a direction to prevent the Centre and NTA from cancelling the controversy-ridden exam.

"NTA and Union has filed replies. Some counsels have not got the e-copies of the replies. In order for parties to peruse replies, further hearing to be on 18 July, Thursday," said the Court.

The union government informed the apex court that the counselling process for the controversy-hit NEET-UG 2024 would be conducted in four rounds beginning from the third week of July. It has added that the "beneficiaries of malpractice will be barred" from counselling.

In the affidavit filed on Wednesday, 10 July the union government claimed that there was no case of “mass malpractice” or localised set of candidates having benefited in the NEET-UG 2024 paper leak based on a data analytics report submitted by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras. In a separate affidavit, the NTA denied allegations of petitioners that 67 candidates scored perfect marks as “fallacious and incorrect.”

The CBI made the submission in its status report submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover on Thursday, 11 July and it stated that the leak was confined to a single exam centre in Bihar and affected only a small number of students.

The CBI's submission is in line with the union government’s stance which has opposed a full NEET-UG retest for 23 lakh students who appeared for the entrance exam on 5 May. The Centre, in its affidavit before the Supreme Court, said there was no indication of “mass malpractice” in the exam.

According to the Centre, the IIT study took into account parameters such as marks distribution, city-wise and centre-wise rank distribution and candidates spread over marks range.

NEET is conducted by the National Testing Agency for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and related courses in government and private institutions. More than 23 lakh candidates wrote the NEET-UG exam this year, on May 5, at 4,750 centres in 571 cities and 14 places abroad.

The IIT Madras report has found that Kottayam in central Kerala was the third in the country of top rank holders after Sikar and Kota in Rajasthan. Sikar, which had 27 people in top-1,000 in 2023 reported 55 top rank-holders this year. Kota had 35, an increase of 22 from last year. Kottayam, which had 14 rank-holders in top-1000 now has 25.

The affidavit was submitted after the court sought to know whether it would be feasible to use data analytics to identify suspect cases and segregate tainted students from untainted ones.

In the separate affidavit, NTA said the viral videos purportedly showing photos of the leaked question paper on social media app Telegram were fake. "This analysis indicates that the distribution of marks is quite normal and there seems to be no extraneous factor which would influence the distribution of marks," said the NTA.

The Supreme Court on Monday, 8 July had said the fact that question papers were leaked in the NEET-UG cannot be denied, during the hearing of over 30 pleas related to the controversy surrounding the NEET-UG 2024 medical entrance exam.

The Centre and the NTA told the court on 13 June that they had cancelled the grace marks awarded to 1,563 candidates, who were given the option to either take a re-test or forgo the compensatory marks awarded for supposed loss of time.

A total of 67 students had scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA's history, with six from a single centre in Haryana figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities in the examination. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to the 67 students sharing the top rank.

The NTA announced revised rankings on 1 July after issuing the results of the re-test held on 23 June, where the number of candidates sharing the top rank was reduced to 61.

As a result of the ongoing controversy, Congress MP and Lok Sabha leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a debate in Parliament on NEET.

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