From grace marks to alleged paper leak: NEET UG exam row explained

A committee formed by the NTA investigated the matter and chose to use the formula devised and adopted by SC in a 2018 judgement.


Published Jun 13, 2024 | 9:34 PM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 9:35 PM

NEET UG exam row

The medical entrance exam NEET-UG with over 24 lakh candidates appearing for it has become a centre of controversy over allegations of several irregularities, triggering protests across the country and a political slugfest.

Here is an explainer of what has happened so far:

Alleged irregularities

There have been allegations of inflation of marks in NEET-UG leading to a record 67 candidates sharing the top rank with perfect scores.

Last year, two students shared the top rank. Students have been alleging the marks have been randomly reduced or increased for several candidates, affecting their ranks.

The grace marks awarded to over 1,500 students to compensate for the loss of time due to delays in exams at six centres are also under scanner.

There have been allegations of paper leaks too. The Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police had last month said that its investigation has revealed that the question papers and answers for NEET-UG were provided to approximately 35 aspirants before the 5 May exam.

Thirteen individuals have been arrested so far in connection with the case.

Students from at least six centres in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat and Chandigarh had complained about a loss of time during the exams.

At these locations, the students did not get the full 3 hours and 20 minutes to write the exam due to administrative reasons, such as the distribution of the wrong question paper, torn OMR sheets, or delay in the distribution of OMR sheets.

A committee formed by the NTA investigated the matter and chose to use the formula devised and adopted by the apex court in a 2018 judgement, to address the loss of time faced by candidates. The loss of time was ascertained and such candidates were compensated with grace marks.

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NTA’s stand on allegations

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has maintained that the sanctity of the exam has not been compromised.

It has attributed the rise in the number of top scorers to an increase in the competitiveness of the exam and an increase in performance standards.

According to officials, grace marks have been awarded to 1,563 candidates to compensate for the loss of time in line with the Supreme Court-approved formula.

Out of the 67 candidates who got 720 out of 720 marks, 44 are on account of the revision in one Answer Key of Physics, and six are on account of compensatory marks for loss of time.

This adjustment was aimed at addressing inconsistencies in NCERT textbooks, ensuring candidates were not disadvantaged by factual discrepancies.

Sixty-three cases of students using unfair means were reported in NEET-UG, out of whom 23 have been debarred for varying periods.

The Education Ministry has set up a four-member expert panel headed by a former UPSC chairperson to review the grace marks awarded to students.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has denied the allegations saying there is no evidence of paper leak and claims of corruption in NTA are unfounded.

Related: NEET row: Number of top rankers to go down to 61 from 67 as NTA withdraws grace marks

Political slugfest

The Congress has been demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the NEET Exam, asserting the anger in the country over the matter will “reverberate inside Parliament as well.”

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi slammed the Education Minister for defending NTA, claiming that the Bihar Police investigation has found a paper leak.

The Maharashtra government has sought immediate cancellation of the exam, alleging that its results have caused injustice to the students from the state.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said the trends from the latest NEET results have once again vindicated the DMK on its stand opposing the exam and reiterated that the entrance test goes against social justice and federalism.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and TMC have also demanded a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe.

Meanwhile, the apex court has noted that the sanctity of NEET-UG, 2024 was affected and has refused to stay the counselling process for admissions.

The NTA expert panel has told the court that the decision to give grace marks to 1,563 NEET-UG candidates for admission to MBBS, BDS and other courses had been cancelled and they would be given the option to take a retest on 23 June.

If the candidates do not wish to take up the retest then their earlier marks, minus the grace marks, will be given for the results, it said.

The results of the retest will be declared on 30 June and the counselling for admission to the MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on 6 July.

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