Sanctity has been affected; we need answers: Supreme Court on NEET-UG 2024 results

The fresh plea alleged that NEET-UG, 2024, was riddled with malpractices as various allegations of paper leaks have come to the fore.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 11, 2024 | 4:53 PM Updated Jun 11, 2024 | 4:53 PM

Supreme Court on NEET result

“Sanctity has been affected, so we need answers,” the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, 11 June seeking the response of the Union government and the National Testing Agency (NTA) on a plea seeking to stay the results of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) 2024.

The pleas,  filed on the grounds of alleged question paper leak and other malpractices, sought fresh conduct of the exam.

Taking note of the allegations, a vacation bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, “It is not that simple because what you have done is sacrosanct. Sanctity has been affected, so we need answers.”

The top court, however, refused to stay the counselling of successful candidates for admissions to MBBS, BDS and other courses.

Besides the Union government and the NTA, which conducts NEET-UG, the bench also issued notices to the Bihar government. There were allegations of malpractice during the conduct of the exam in the state.

“How much time do you want? Immediately on the re-opening? Otherwise, the counselling will start,” the bench said.

Related: ‘NEET-ly’ shattered students flail to stay afloat, NTA offers no helpline

The plea in court

The case tagged the plea filed by Shivangi Mishra and nine other MBBS aspirants with a pending petition and asked the NTA to file the response. The top court’s benches will resume regular hearings on 8 July after the completion of the summer vacation, which commenced on 20 May.

NEET-UG, 2024, was held on 5 May and results were declared on 4 June. It was expected to be declared on 14 June.

The examination is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

“Issue notice. In the meantime, the response will be filed by the National Testing Agency,” the bench said.

It, however, did not agree to the submission of lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara, appearing for the students, that the counselling of students be stayed in the meantime. “Let the counselling start, we are not stopping the counselling… We will not stop the counselling. If you argue further, we will dismiss this,” the bench said.

The apex court bench took note of submissions that the fresh plea be tagged along with the earlier similar petition on which a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chanrdarchud had issued notices to the Union government and the NTA on 17 May and was already listed on 8 July. It allowed the submissions.

Related: Government must take serious steps to correct ‘irregularities’: Priyanka Gandhi

Fresh pleas

The fresh plea alleged that NEET-UG, 2024, was riddled with malpractices as various instances of alleged paper leaks have come to the knowledge of the petitioners.

The alleged leak was violative of Article 14 (right to equality) under the Constitution as it gave an undue advantage to some candidates over others who chose to attempt the examination in a fair manner, it said.

Shivangi Mishra and others had filed the plea on 1 June before the declaration of the NEET-UG results. After the declaration of the results, a few more petitions have been filed in the top court against the NTA’s decision to award grace marks to several candidates. Those pleas are yet to be listed for hearing.

On 17 May, the CJI-led bench of the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on the results of the NEET-UG 2024. It, however, had agreed to issue notice on the plea for re-examination.

Similar petitions are pending in different high courts as well.

One of the petitions before the Supreme Court has specifically referred to the allegations that the paper was leaked in Patna and wrong question papers were given to candidates in Rajasthan.

Related: Education Ministry sets up panel to review NEET grace marks

NEET controversy

The NEET-UG 2024 results sparked widespread surprise and controversy.

An unprecedented 67 candidates achieved the All India Rank (AIR) 1, scoring full marks (720). This led to allegations on social media that the NEET paper might have been leaked in advance.

Scorecards showing marks of 718 or 719 also surfaced, raising further questions.

The controversy stemmed from NEET’s marking scheme, which awarded four marks for each correct answer and deducted one mark for each incorrect one.

Thus, after the full score of 720, the next possible score should be 716 if one question was left unanswered and 715 if one question was answered incorrectly. This discrepancy in scores fuelled suspicion.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)