Explained: What is NEET-UG controversy all about


PTI, Jun 13, 2024, 5:29 PM IST

Medical entrance exam NEET-UG with over 24 lakh candidates appearing for it has become a centre of controversy over allegations of several irregularities and has triggered protests across the country and a political slugfest. Here is an explainer on what has happened so far:

1. ALLEGED IRREGULARITIES

There have been allegations of inflation of marks in NEET-UG which has led to a record 67 candidates sharing top rank with perfect score. Last year, two students shared the top rank. Students have been alleging the marks have been randomly reduced or increased for several candidates, affecting their ranks. The grace marks awarded to over 1,500 students to compensate for loss of time for delay in exams at six centres is also under scanner.
There have been allegations of paper leak too. The Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police had last month said that its investigation has revealed that the question papers and answers for NEET-UG were provided to approximately 35 aspirants before the May 5 exam. Thirteen individuals have been arrested so far in connection with the case.

2. WHY WERE STUDENTS AWARDED GRACE MARKS?

Students from at least six centres in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat and Chandigarh had complained about the loss of time during the exams. At these locations, the students did not get the full 3 hours and 20 minutes to write the exam due to administrative reasons, including the distribution of the wrong question paper, torn OMR sheets, or delay in the distribution of OMR sheets.
A committee formed by the NTA investigated the matter and came up with the formula devised and adopted by the apex court in a 2018 judgement, to address the loss of time faced by candidates. The loss of time was ascertained and such candidates were compensated with grace marks.

2. NTA’S STAND ON ALLEGATIONS

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has been maintaining that the sanctity of the exam has not been compromised. The rise in the number of top scorers has been attributed to increase in the competitiveness of the exam and increase in performance standards.
According to officials, grace marks have been awarded to 1,563 candidates to
compensate for the loss of time in line with the Supreme Court approved formula.
Out of the 67 candidates who got 720 out of 720 marks, 44 are on account of
the revision in one Answer Key of Physics, and six are on account of compensatory marks for loss of time. This adjustment aimed to address inconsistencies in NCERT textbooks, ensuring candidates were not disadvantaged by factual discrepancies.

3. EDUCATION MINISTRY’S STAND

The Ministry has set up a four-member expert panel headed by former UPSC
chairman to review the grace marks awarded to students. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has denied the allegations saying there is no evidence of paper leak and claims of corruption in NTA are unfounded.

4. POLITICAL SLUGFEST

The Congress has been demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the NEET Exam, asserting the anger in the country over the matter will “reverberate inside Parliament as well.”
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi accused the Education Minister of defending NTA, claiming that the Bihar Police investigation has found a paper leak.
The Maharashtra government has sought immediate cancellation of the exam,
alleging that its results have caused injustice to the students from the state.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said the trends from the latest NEET
results have once again vindicated the DMK on its stand opposing the exam and reiterated that the entrance test goes against social justice and federalism.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also been demanding a Supreme Court-
monitored SIT probe.

5. SUPREME COURT’S STAND

The apex court has noted that the sanctity of NEET-UG, 2024, was affected and has refused to stay the counselling process for admissions. The NTA expert panel has told the court that the decision to give grace marks to 1,563 NEET-UG candidates for admission to MBBS, BDS and others courses had been cancelled and they would be given an option to take a retest on June 23.
If the candidates do not wish to take up the retest then their earlier marks, minus the grace marks, will be given for the purposes of the results.
The results of the retest will be declared on June 30 and the counselling for
admission in the MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on July 6.

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