Centre, NTA Oppose Pleas For Cancellation Of NEET-UG, Say Re-Test Would Jeopardise Honest Examinees

Centre, NTA Oppose Pleas For Cancellation Of NEET-UG, Say Re-Test Would Jeopardise Honest Examinees

The Union Education Ministry and the NTA filed separate affidavits opposing the pleas which have sought scrapping of the exam plagued by controversy, a re-test and court-monitored probe into entire gamut of issues involved.

PTIUpdated: Friday, July 05, 2024, 07:26 PM IST
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Amid the growing clamour for cancellation of the controversy-ridden NEET-UG, 2024 exam over alleged malpractices, the Centre and the National Testing Agency told the Supreme Court on Friday that scrapping it would be “counterproductive” and "seriously jeopardise" lakhs of honest candidates in the absence of proof of large-scale breach of confidentiality.

The National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses, and the Union Education Ministry have been at the centre of media debates and protests by students and political parties over alleged large-scale malpractices ranging from question paper leak to impersonation in the test held on May 5.

The Union Education Ministry and the NTA filed separate affidavits opposing the pleas which have sought scrapping of the exam plagued by controversy, a re-test and court-monitored probe into entire gamut of issues involved.

In their responses, they said the CBI, the country's premier investigating agency, has taken over the cases registered in different states.

"It is also submitted that at the same time, in the absence of any proof of any large-scale breach of confidentiality in a pan-India examination, it would not be rational to scrap the entire examination and the results already declared," the Centre said in its preliminary affidavit filed by a director in the Ministry of Education.

“Scrapping the exam in entirety would seriously jeopardise the lakhs of honest candidates who attempted the question paper in 2024," the ministry said.

The Centre said in any examination, there were competing rights, and interests of a large number of students who take it without adopting any unfair means must also not be jeopardised.

The NTA, in its separate affidavit, reiterated the Centre’s stand and said: “The cancellation of the entire examination on the basis of the aforesaid factor, would be hugely counterproductive and significantly harmful to the larger public interest, especially to the career prospects of the qualified candidates.”

The agency said the entirety of NEET-UG 2024 exam was carried out fairly and with due confidentiality without any illegal practices, and the claim of "mass malpractice" during the exam is “completely unfounded, misleading, and lacks any basis”.

“It is submitted that if the entire examination process is cancelled without their being any tangible factors warranting such actions it would be highly detrimental to the larger public interest involving the academic career of lakhs of students who have attempted the examination fairly without any wrongdoing or even an allegation of wrongdoing,” the NTA said.

The ministry and the NTA said there was no proof of any large-scale breach of confidentiality in the examination which was taken by over 23 lakh candidates at 4,750 centres in 571 cities.

The ministry said the Centre was committed to protecting the interests of lakhs of students who have attempted the question papers fairly and after years of hardwork, without trying to obtain any illegal advantage.

"Therefore, while genuine concerns based on proven facts must be addressed, other prayers merely based on conjectures and surmises, without any basis in fact, must be rejected so as not to cause unnecessary suffering and distress to honest examinees and their families," the ministry said.

The government said it has constituted a high-level committee of experts to suggest effective measures for conducting transparent, smooth and fair examinations by the NTA.

The affidavit said the panel shall make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols and structure, and functioning of the National Testing Agency.

"It is respectfully submitted that the government is committed to ensure the sanctity of examinations and protect the interest of students. To ensure transparency, fairness, and credibility in public examination, Parliament has enacted Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 on February 12, 2024," it said.

The affidavit said the Act was brought into effect on June 21, 2024 and provides for stringent punishment for offences related to use of unfair means in public examinations.

The top court is scheduled to hear on July 8 a batch of pleas, including those alleging irregularities in the examination held on May 5 and seeking a direction that it be held afresh.

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