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SC seeks response of Centre, NTA on plea for CBI probe into ‘irregularities’ in NEET-UG

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Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday reiterated that the government will not tolerate any malpractice or irregularities in the conduct of exams and accountability of the NTA will be fixed if lapses are found

NEW DELHI, June 14: In a significant development amid a raging row over the NEET-UG, the Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and the NTA on a plea for a CBI probe into allegations of question paper leak and other irregularities in the exam.
A vacation bench of justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta, which was hearing a batch of pleas including a PIL filed by Hiten Singh Kashyap, also sought responses from the CBI and the Bihar government within two weeks.
It said the pleas will be taken up with other pending ones on July 8, when the top court will start functioning after the summer vacation.
During brief hearing, the bench got irked when a lawyer referred to the students committing suicides at Kota, a hub of coaching centres, in Rajasthan as an argument to buttress his case for a CBI probe.
“Don’t make unnecessary emotional arguments here,” Justice Nath said.
Responding to the submission for ordering a CBI probe, the bench said the reply of the NTA was necessary before an order could be passed.
“It is the future of 24 lakh students,” the lawyer said.
“We understand. We are conscious of all that,” the bench said.
The Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) had on Thursday told the Supreme Court they had cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates who took the examination for admission to MBBS and other such courses.
They will have the option to either take a re-test or forgo the compensatory marks awarded to them for the loss of time, the Centre had said.
The examination was held on May 5 across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates took it.
The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced on June 4, apparently because the evaluation of the answer sheets got completed earlier.
There have been allegations of question paper leaks in states like Bihar and other irregularities in the prestigious exam.
The allegations have led to protests in several cities and filing of cases in seven high courts as also the Supreme Court.
Scores of students protested in Delhi on June 10 seeking a probe into alleged irregularities.
As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA’s history, with six from a centre in Haryana’s Faridabad figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities. 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.
Won’t tolerate any malpractice: Union Minister
The government will not tolerate any malpractice or irregularities in the conduct of exams and accountability of the NTAwill be fixed if lapses are found, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday amid a row over medical entrance exam NEET.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) has come under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the medical entrance exam.
About 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 the NTA will also be fixed if lapses are found,” Pradhan said
“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.(PTI)

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