Won't Tolerate Malpractice, Accountability In NTA To Be Fixed If Lapses Found: Edu Minister On NEET

Won't Tolerate Malpractice, Accountability In NTA To Be Fixed If Lapses Found: Edu Minister On NEET

Dharmendra Pradhan said, "There is no scope for any malpractice or irregularities in the conduct of any exam. We will not tolerate that. The accountability of NTA will also be fixed if lapses are found."

PTIUpdated: Friday, June 14, 2024, 09:42 PM IST
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The government will not tolerate any malpractice or irregularities in the conduct of exams and accountability of the National Testing Agency will be fixed if lapses are found, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday amid a row over medical entrance exam NEET.

NTA criticised for alleged exam irregularities and mark inflation

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has come under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the medical entrance exam.

About the action taken against six centres where the exam paper was wrongly distributed and candidates had to be compensated with grace marks to make up for the loss of time, he said, "Every aspect is being looked into. Accountability will be fixed and depending on the nature of lapse, action will be taken."

"There is no scope for any malpractice or irregularities in the conduct of any exam. We will not tolerate that. The accountability of NTA will also be fixed if lapses are found," Pradhan said in response to a question by PTI.

"The government is committed to protecting the interests of NEET examinees. Concerns of students will be addressed with fairness and equity. Facts related to NEET are in cognisance of the Supreme Court. The counselling process will be underway soon and it is of utmost importance to move ahead in this direction without any confusion," he added.

Minister responds to congress criticism

The minister's comments came on a day when the Congress stepped up its attack on the government over the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-UG and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" on the matter.

The opposition party asserted that only a Supreme Court-monitored forensic probe can safeguard the future of lakhs of young students.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge claimed the Modi government has started "covering up the NEET scam" through the Union education minister and NTA.

"They have just lost the elections and are now looking for a new issue. We have the facts and misleading students and the public based on lies is not right," he added.

Explaining the reason behind the rise in the number of toppers and cut-off marks this year, Pradhan said the syllabus for NEET was reduced as per the syllabus rationalised by NCERT.

"In previous years, the NEET syllabus wasn't cut down. This year we also aligned the questions with the state boards' syllabus. Less syllabus and more number of candidates also led to the rise in competition and ultimately increase in the number of top scorers," the Union education minister said.

Pradhan reiterated that there is no concrete proof to establish the allegations of paper leak in this year's NEET-UG exam. He met some NEET aspirants and their parents on Friday and addressed the issues raised by them.

The Union minister said NEET-UG was held at over 4,500 centres and incorrect question distribution was reported from just six of them. "Just because of the six centres, we can't question the sanctity and credibility of the entire system."

Asked if the government will take steps to bring some reforms in the way NTA conducts entrance exams, Pradhan said, "NTA is a competent agency. However, no institution is perfect and we work on bringing reforms continuously."

"I will reply with facts in Parliament," the Union education minister said responding to Congress' assertion that the NEET issue would "reverberate inside Parliament as well".

The Union education minister said this year a large number of students who cleared the exam are from rural areas and include those who did not take any coaching. "Some people are not being able to take this and therefore they are trying to conspire against the interest of such students," he claimed. 

Presently, 41 pleas are in different high courts and the Supreme Court, Pradhan said while emphasising that it is important to see who all are behind these petitions.

"These petitioners are neither parents nor students…. Some people are insecure about the fact that exams like NEET-UG have reached rural areas and many students from there are clearing this exam. Last year, a state-board student from Tamil Nadu topped the NEET-UG," he said.

Earlier in the day, Pradhan met two students and a parent, who had come to the Education Ministry to raise their grievances about NEET.

On Friday, a group of students held a protest outside the Education Ministry and submitted a memorandum, making several demands including a re-exam for everyone, assurance of transparency from the NTA and a CBI inquiry into the NEET results.

The NTA on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the decision to award grace marks to 1,563 candidates in NEET-UG for admission to MBBS, BDS and other courses was cancelled and they would be given the option to take a retest on June 23.

The education ministry last week set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to 1,563 students to compensate them for "loss of time" due to a delay in starting the examination at certain centres.

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