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CBI files FIR over alleged irregularities in NEET-UG

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CBI team allegedly attacked in Bihar’s Nawada; 813 of 1,563 candidates appear for retest

NEW DELHI, June 23: The CBI filed an FIR on Sunday in connection with alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG held on May 5 on a reference from the Union education ministry, amid countrywide protests and litigation by students for a probe into paper leak claims.
Officials said the ministry alleged in a complaint, now part of the FIR, to the agency that “certain isolated incidents” occurred in a few states during the conduct of the examination.
Giving top priority to the case, the CBI has sent special teams to Godhra and Patna, where cases of question paper leaks have been registered by police, they said.
The Gujarat government, meanwhile, issued a notification on Sunday, handing over the probe to the CBI.
Additional Chief Secretary A K Rakesh issued the notification handing over the case registered at the Godhra Taluka police station on May 8 under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust among others.
The central agency plans to take over the investigation of the cases registered by the police in Gujarat and Bihar, the officials said.
The CBI action came a day after the ministry announced it would hand over the probe into the alleged irregularities to the central agency, a demand raised by a section of protesting students.
“The ministry of education has requested the CBI to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the entire gamut of alleged irregularities, including conspiracy, cheating, impersonation, breach of trust and destruction of evidence by candidates, institutes and middlemen,” a CBI spokesperson said.
The role of public servants, if any, connected with the conduct of the examination and also into the entire gamut of events, and the larger conspiracy will also be under the scanner, according to the officials.
“Certain cases of alleged irregularities, cheating, impersonation and malpractice have been reported in NEET-UG which was conducted on May 5,” a senior education ministry official said on Saturday.
“For transparency in the conduct of the examination process, it was decided after a review that the matter be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a comprehensive investigation,” the official had said.
The allegations of irregularities sparked protests in several cities, litigation and a political slugfest, with the opposition accusing the government of toying with the future of students.
Ten aspirants have approached the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the CBI and the ED to investigate the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG.
The petition has also sought a direction to the Bihar Police to expedite the investigation in the case and file a report before the apex court.
In a separate matter, the Supreme Court sought responses from the Center, the NTA and others on various petitions, including those seeking cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam and a court-monitored investigation.
The Supreme Court also halted proceedings on similar petitions in various high courts.
The examination was conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on May 5 at 4,750 centres in 571 cities, including 14 cities abroad. Over 23 lakh candidates took the test.
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.
There was also a controversy over grace marks awarded to students to make up for the loss of time at six centres.
The Centre later told the apex court that the grace marks were being scrapped and these 1,563 students would be given an option of a retest.
813 candidates appear for retest
As many as 813 of the 1,563 candidates who were earlier awarded grace marks in NEET-UG appeared for a retest on Sunday, officials said.
The retest was conducted at seven centres following an order from the Supreme Court. The grace marks were awarded to make up for the loss of time at six centres where the examination started late on May 5.
“At least 52 per cent — 813 out of 1,563 candidates — appeared for the retest on Sunday,” a senior National Testing Agency (NTA) official said.
Amid a raging row over alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam, the NTA on Sunday debarred 17 candidates who had appeared for the exam on May 5 at centres in Bihar.
The agency had earlier debarred 63 candidates for adopting unfair means in the exam. On Saturday, 30 additional candidates from Gujarat’s Godhara were also debarred.
CBI team attacked in Bihar
A CBI team probing alleged irregularities in the conduct of the UGC-NET examination was allegedly attacked by locals in Bihar’s Nawada after which four persons were arrested by police on a complaint from the central agency, officials said Sunday.
The incident occurred on Saturday evening when a team of CBI had gone to Kasiadeeh village in the area, they said.A mob gathered around the CBI vehicles and heckled the officers, they said, adding a call was made to the local police station which dispatched force from Rajauli police station.
An FIR was filed by the local police against the accused on charges of causing disruption in government work and assault, among others.
The local police arrested four persons allegedly involved in the attack and they have been sent to judicial custody, they said.
Centre’s high-level panel on exam reforms to meet today
The Union education ministry’s high-level panel for suggesting exam reforms and reviewing functioning of the National Testing Agency will meet on Monday, sources said.
Amid a row over irregularities in competitive exams, the ministry on Saturday notified a seven-member panel headed by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through the NTA.
The panel will make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols and the structure and functioning of the NTA. (PTI)

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