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NEET-UG Exam: Supreme Court Advises Caution on Re-Test Amid Question Paper Leak Controversy

On Monday, the Supreme Court advised caution regarding the demands for a re-test of the NEET-UG exam

The results, released last month, were marred by allegations of leaked question papers and the awarding of ‘grace marks’ to 1,563 students.

Court’s Perspective on Re-Test

The court noted that specific circumstances, such as a minimal time lag between the leak and the actual exam, would argue against conducting a re-test. “If students were asked to memorize the leaked questions on the morning of the exam, the leak might not have been so widespread,” the court observed.

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, leading a three-judge bench, expressed reluctance to order a re-test for nearly 24 lakh students, many from financially disadvantaged backgrounds who would struggle to afford travel expenses to exam centers. The Chief Justice emphasized that a re-test should be considered only as a “last option.”

Compromised Exam Integrity

“One thing is clear… questions were leaked. The sanctity of the exam has been compromised… this is beyond doubt,” stated Chief Justice Chandrachud. The court highlighted the need to determine the extent of the leak before deciding on a re-test, cautioning that the careers of lakhs of students were at stake.

The court underscored that an exam should not be canceled solely because of the misconduct of a few students. A re-test would only be justified if there was significant time between the leak and the exam or if identifying those who benefited from the leak proved impossible.

Further Investigations

To gain clarity on the matter, the court sought details about the printing of the question papers. Instead of an immediate re-test, the court recommended forming a multi-disciplinary panel to investigate the issue, which is already under scrutiny by the CBI and the police.

Government’s Responsibility

The court criticized the government for its “denial” and stressed the importance of being “ruthless” with those involved in leaking the exam and those who benefited from it. The bench, including Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, emphasized the need for the government to instill confidence in the exam process.

The court was informed that question papers were available on social media, including messaging apps like Telegram, at least 24 hours before the exam. This point was acknowledged, with the court noting that if the questions had been leaked so far in advance, they could have “spread like wildfire.”

NEET-UG Exam Controversy

The controversy erupted after the results were announced last month. Concerns were raised about the unusually high number of perfect scores, with 67 students, including six from one coaching center, scoring a maximum of 720. Additionally, questions were raised about the awarding of ‘grace marks’ to 1,563 students, which the NTA stated was not standard exam protocol.

The NEET-UG exam, held annually for admission to undergraduate medical courses, was conducted on May 5, involving nearly 24 lakh students. The controversy over the exam and its results has prompted calls for a thorough investigation and careful consideration before any decision on a re-test is made.

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