Godhra court notes 'possible malpractice after exam' at NEET centre, says 'unfortunate that NTA not helping'

Court order states that co-accused Arif Vohra, Vibhor Anand Umeshwar Prasad Singh and Parshuram Bindhnath Roy contacted the aspirants of NEET and finalised the deal with the parents of the aspirants.
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 17:12 IST

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Ahmedabad: A court in Godhra while denying bail to the principal of the school where alleged multi-crore NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) cheating scam was unearthed has said that it was "unfortunate" that National Testing Agency (NTA) was not helping the Godhra police by proving OMR sheets to ascertain whether any malpractice was carried out by the suspects or not.

The local police have maintained that no cheating was carried out as the plan of the suspects was unearthed in the nick of time and district collector dispatched extra manpower who supervised the exam centre at Jay Jalaram School, Paravdi in Godhra. The court, however, has observed based on records that the accused "successfully executed this malpractice and certainly facilitated the shortlisted candidates."

The police have arrested five persons including the school principal for their alleged involvement in plotting to help at least 30 students by filling empty answer-sheets in lieu of Rs10 lakh each. Cheques worth Rs2.3 crore have also been recovered from the possession of the suspects.

"The Investigating Officer has submitted that the NTA has not handed over the OMR Sheets, etc. of the suspected candidates, despite repeated requests. It is very unfortunate that the NTA has not supplied such crucial documentary evidence to the investigating agency, till date. The NTA has claimed that the examination was not compromised in any manner; there were security protocols, SOP and CCTV Surveillance at the examination centres. However, it is to be noted that in the present case, the alleged malpractice has been carried out by the accused persons immediately after the examination. Therefore, on perusal of the entire facts, prima facie, the possibility of malpractice cannot be ruled out at these centres,"

Chandrapal Singh Chauhan, sessions judge, Godhra has noted in his order while denying bail to accused Purshottam Mahavirprasad Sharma, 41. Sharma was the principal of the school which was chosen as one of the centres of NEET. He was also acting as city-coordinator appointed by NTA. He is alleged to have held a meeting with other accused at his house on May 4, a day before the test to plot the alleged cheating.

"Immediately after completion of NEET-UG examination, the present accused (Sharma) as well as Tushar Bhatt and Arif Vohra (both co-accused) had met at Hotel Sahyog and Hotel Grand Ekta on 06.05.2024 and accused Tushar Bhatt was apprehended on 12.05.2024 and Rs.7,00,000/- was recovered from his car and list of shortlisted candidates was also found from his mobile phone, which clearly suggest that the present accused along with accused Tushar Bhatt had successfully executed this mal practice and certainly facilitated the shortlisted candidates," reads the order.  

Sharma in his defence contended that "no irregularity" was committed in the exam. The order quotes his lawyer's argument stating that he along with centre superintendent and two observers of the NTA had collected the exam paper from the SB Bank locker. All the question papers were locked in two iron bags containing a digital lock which is connected with a satellite and it had automatically unlocked at 1-15 p.m. Moreover, the videography of the same is also recorded and during the exam, the Dy Collector, DDO and police officials, in all 40 personnels were present at the centre."  

The prosecution submitted that Sharma along with co-accused shortlisted 30 students. The accused "filled-up the answers left unanswered by the shortlisted candidates and thereby illegally helped them to secure high marks for getting Medical Admission and in lieu thereof, they had availed huge monetary gains," reads the bail order quoting prosecution.  

It said that the "shortlisted" students who appeared in the examination had specifically chosen the Godhra center despite belonging to far off states like Odisha, Maharashtra among others. "They were not connected with the Jay Jalaram School in any manner. This fact itself prima facie shows that there is nexus and manipulation between the participants as well as the accused persons," the prosecution argued.  

Court order states that co-accused Arif Vohra, Vibhor Anand Umeshwar Prasad Singh and Parshuram Bindhnath Roy contacted the aspirants of NEET and finalised the deal with the parents of the aspirants. These candidates chose Godhra centre (Jay Jalaram School) "as the platform of this malpractice had been set-up by the accused persons with the help of the present applicant."  

Published 21 June 2024, 17:12 IST

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