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63 cases of use of unfair means, but no paper leak; NEET-UG sanctity not compromised: NTA officials

The agency is under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the crucial medical entrance exam.
Last Updated : 12 June 2024, 15:31 IST

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New Delhi: Sixty-three cases of students using unfair means were reported in NEET-UG out of whom 23 have been debarred for varying periods, NTA officials said Wednesday, but reiterated there has been no paper leak and the sanctity of the medical entrance exam hasn't been compromised.

The result of the remaining 40 candidates who were found using unfair means have been withheld, NTA DG Subodh Kumar Singh told PTI.

"A committee was constituted consisting of three eminent experts in field of examination and academics to put forward different types of cases reported such as impersonation, cheating and tampering with OMR sheet," NTA DG Subodh Kumar Singh said.

"On the recommendations of the panel, 12 candidates were debarred from taking the exam for three years, nine candidates debarred for two years and two candidate for one year each. The result of remaining candidates has been withheld. The panel had given recommendations for each case," Singh added.

The total number of cases of usage of unfair means was 63, he said.

The agency is under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the crucial medical entrance exam.

The matter has also reached the top court which said on Tuesday the sanctity of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG), 2024 has been affected.

The Education Ministry had 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 delay in starting examination at certain centres.

"The panel is yet to submit its report. Depending upon the panel's recommendations, either a retest will be conducted for nearly 1,600 students or an alternate mechanism may be devised to ensure no candidate faces any disadvantage," Singh said.

Asked about allegations of marks inflation which apparently led to 67 candidates scoring 720 out of 720, Singh said 44 candidates received marks on account of revision of answer key of physics and six on account of loss of time. "Only two candidates who got grace marks have received 718 and 719 marks," he added.

According to NTA officials, the adjustments were aimed to address inconsistencies in NCERT textbooks "which led to getting the full marks for 44 candidates and revision led to increased marks for many candidates, contributing to the high number of perfect scores".

Even as the NEET-UG exam results have gotten embroiled a political slugfest, NTA sources said that the majority of the claims are an attempt to create a "fake narrative" around the exam. Responding to a video, shared by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, in which a candidate alleges she received a torn OMR sheet via email and that the NTA has given her wrong score (335 instead of 715), the NTA said the paper is still intact and it's a case of forgery on part of the candidate whose actual score is lower than claimed.

"No torn OMR answer sheet was sent from any official NTA email, and the actual OMR is available and not torn. Moreover all results are available online," said an official.

The NTA countered the claims of incorrect result on social media stating, "Regarding the viral video featuring Ms XXX, claiming discrepancies in NEET (UG) 2024 scoring and receiving of torn OMR answer sheet, NTA clarifies that no torn answer sheet was sent via an official NTA ID. OMR answer sheet is intact and scores are accurate as per official records…"

Multiple petitions have been filed in high courts and the Supreme Court on diverse allegations – right from questioning paper leak to grace marks and significant increase in high scorers.

Meanwhile, the agency on Wednesday released a document with frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the exam. In this also it reiterated, "There is no question of paper leak".

"It is to be noted that none of the reports are backed with evidence that may indicate a paper leak. These cases seem to be related to cheating/impersonation and not to paper leaks," the agency said.

The NTA also addressed allegations of paper leak at a centre at Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, and those in Bihar, and Godhra, and said that all security protocols and SoPs were followed at these centers.

"NTA has recently received communication from Patna Police regarding the requirement of documents concerning certain candidates. All relevant information and documents have been proactively provided to them. NTA remains committed to fully supporting and assisting all investigations and law enforcement agencies involved in this matter," the agency said.

In the case of Sawai Madhopur centre, the agency said it was found the centre superintendent had mistakenly distributed question papers intended for Hindi medium candidates to those taking the English medium exam, and vice versa. 

"This led to agitation by some candidates, who left the examination center with question papers, despite efforts by the Centre Staff to prevent them from doing the same," the agency said.

It was also found that copies of this question paper were circulated on social media around 4:25 PM, on the day of exam, creating the impression that it was leaked before the commencement of the examination. 

"It is important to emphasize that, even though the QP was taken out by some students and circulated on the Internet, there is no way any external person or agency could access the centres once the examination started,” the NTA said.

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Published 12 June 2024, 15:31 IST

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