Cancelling NEET-UG is not logical, honest students will be affected: Center and NTA told the court

The Uncut

New Delhi. Amid growing clamour for scrapping the controversial NEET-UG 2024 exam, the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) on Friday told the Supreme Court that its cancellation would be highly prejudicial and would be extremely detrimental to the larger public interest, particularly the career prospects of those who clear it.

The National Examination Agency (NTA) conducts NEET-UG for admission to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions. The exam was conducted on May 5 this year, in which about 23 lakh candidates appeared at 4,750 examination centers in 571 cities. Due to allegations of irregularities including question paper leak, protests took place in many cities and opposition parties raised the issue. Several cases were also filed in the courts in this regard. The Union Education Ministry and the NTA have filed separate affidavits opposing the petitions, which demand cancellation of the controversial exam, re-examination and investigation under the supervision of the court.

In his reply, he said that the CBI, the premier investigating agency of the country, has taken over the cases registered in various states.
In its initial affidavit filed by a director of the Ministry of Education, the Center said, “It is also argued that in the absence of any evidence of large-scale violation of confidentiality in the All India Examination, it would not be logical to cancel the entire examination and the results already declared.” It said, “Cancelling the examination completely will cause serious harm to lakhs of honest candidates appearing for the examination in 2024.” In the affidavit, the Center said that in any examination, there are competitive rights so that the interests of such students who do not adopt any unfair means in the examination are not harmed.

The NTA reiterated the Centre’s stand in its affidavit and said, “Cancellation of the entire examination on the basis of the above-mentioned factor would be highly prejudicial and detrimental to the larger public interest, particularly the career prospects of the deserving candidates.” The agency said the NEET-UG 2024 exam was conducted in a completely fair and confidential manner without any illegal activity and the claim of “mass malpractice” is “completely unsubstantiated, misleading and has no basis”.

The Union Education Ministry and the NTA said there was no evidence of any large-scale breach of confidentiality in the exam. The ministry said the Centre is committed to protecting the interests of lakhs of students who have appeared in the exam after years of hard work, without trying to gain any illegal advantage.

It said, “Therefore, genuine concerns based on proven facts should be addressed, while other petitions based only on conjecture without any facts should be rejected, so that honest candidates and their families do not have to face unnecessary suffering.” The government said that it has constituted a high-level committee of experts to suggest effective measures for conducting transparent, smooth and fair examination by NTA. The Education Ministry said that some alleged cases of irregularities, fraud and malpractice have come to light and the government has asked the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged irregularities.

He said that the CBI has taken over the cases registered in various states and is investigating them. The affidavit said, “The government is committed to ensure the purity of examinations and protect the interests of the students. To ensure transparency, fairness and credibility in public examinations, Parliament has enacted the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act 2024 on February 12, 2024.” This law came into effect from June 21, 2024. The Supreme Court will hear various related petitions on July 8, including petitions alleging irregularities in the examination held on May 5 and petitions seeking fresh examination.

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