NEET conundrum: Grace marks awarded to over 1,500 students withdrawn, optional re-test on 23 June

In the case of students who do not wish to take the retest, their scores from the exam held on 5 May will be considered.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 13, 2024 | 12:19 PM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 12:36 PM

NEET UG exam row

The Union Government on Thursday, 13 June, informed the Supreme Court that the NTA’s decision to award grace marks to 1,563 NEET-UG 2024 candidates has been withdrawn.

The government further informed the top court that students who were given grace marks will have the option to retake the test on 23 June. The re-test results will be declared on 30 June, and counselling for admission to MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on 6 July.

In the case of students who do not wish to take the retest, their scores from the exam held on 5 May will be considered.

The Supreme Court stated that all pleas, including those seeking the cancellation of NEET-UG 2024 due to allegations of malpractices, will be taken up on 8 July.

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

Court arguments

The Supreme Court stated that “According to the recommendations, the scorecards of the affected 1,563 candidates issued on 4 June 2024, will be cancelled and withdrawn. These candidates will be informed of their actual scores without the grace marks. A re-examination will be conducted for the affected candidates.”

“The results of those who do not wish to appear for the re-examination will be based on their actual marks obtained in the examination held on May 5, 2024, without compensation.”

“For those who take the retest, their new marks will be considered, and their previous scores from the May 5, 2024, examination will be discarded,” the Supreme Court ordered.

Advocate Kanu Agarwal, representing the Union Government, informed a vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta that the decision was made by a panel constituted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on 12 June to “allay the fears of the students.”

Agarwal stated that the panel concluded the award of compensatory marks to 1,563 students due to the loss of time created a “skewed situation” because the grace marks should have been limited only to the unattempted questions.

After examining all aspects, the committee recommended cancelling the scorecards of the 1,563 students and informing them of their actual marks, excluding the grace marks.

The court order

A vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta heard the matter. The petitioners seek a stay on the counselling process.

The court is dealing with three petitions challenging the NEET-UG 2024 results due to widespread irregularities and the grant of grace marks by the National Testing Agency (NTA) to over 1,563 candidates for “loss of time.”

One petition was filed by Physics Wallah CEO Alakh Pandey, who claimed the NTA’s decision to award grace marks was “arbitrary.”

Pandey presented representations from about 20,000 students, indicating that 70-80 marks were randomly awarded as grace marks to at least 1,500 students.

The second petition, filed by SIO members Abdullah Mohammed Faiz and Dr Shaik Roshan Mohiddin, seeks the recall of the NEET-UG 2024 results and a fresh exam.

They alleged arbitrariness in the grace marks, noting that marks as high as 718 and 719 out of 720 were “statistically impossible.” They claimed the grace marks were a malafide exercise to provide “backdoor entry” to certain students.

They also raised suspicions about 67 students from one centre obtaining full 720 marks. This petition also seeks a stay on the counselling process until an investigation into allegations of a paper leak is completed and calls for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged malpractices, reported Live Law.

The third petition, filed by NEET candidate Jaripiti Kartheek, challenged awarding grace marks as compensation for the alleged loss of time during the exam. He argued that the “normalisation formula” should only cover the number of questions left unanswered due to the loss of time.

On 11 June, the Supreme Court issued notice on another petition, filed before the declaration of the NEET-UG results on 4 June, seeking cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 test over an alleged paper leak.

The court, noting that the sanctity of the exam was affected, sought a response from the NTA on the paper leak allegations by 8 July but declined to stay the counselling process.

On 8 June, the NTA and the Union Education Ministry announced the formation of a four-member committee to review the results of over 1,500 candidates who were awarded grace marks to compensate for the “loss of time” during the NEET-UG 2024 exam.

NEET UG

The examination was held by the NTA on 5 May across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates took it. The results were expected to be declared on 14 June but were announced on June 4, apparently because the evaluation of the answer sheets got completed earlier.

Allegations such as question paper leak and the grant of grace marks to over 1,500 medical aspirants led to protests and filing of cases in seven high courts as well as the Supreme Court.

As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA’s history. Six of them took the exam at a centre in Haryana’s Faridabad, raising suspicions about irregularities.

Scores of students protested in Delhi on June 10 seeking a probe into alleged irregularities. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to 67 students sharing the top rank.

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

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

(With inputs from PTI and Sumit Jha)