NEET sanctity hit, says SC, seeks Centre, NTA response

The Asian Age.  | Rakesh K. Singh

India, All India

The apex court, however, refused to stay the counselling of successful candidates for admissions to MBBS, BDS and other courses

Supreme Court. (ANI)

New Delhi: Noting that the sanctity of NEET-UG 2024 has been affected, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the response of the Centre and the National Testing Agency on a plea seeking conduct of medical entrance anew on the grounds of alleged question paper leak and other malpractices. The apex court, however, refused to staya the counselling of successful candidates for admissions to MBBS, BDS and other courses.

Taking note of the allegations flagged in the plea, a vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said what the NTA was supposed to do was sacrosanct. The top court said, “Sanctity (of the entrance) has been affected, so we need answers.”

Besides the Centre and the NTA, which conducts NEET-UG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate), the bench also issued notices to the Bihar government. There were allegations of malpractice in the competitive examination conducted in the state.

The top court said: “How much time do you want...Immediately on the re-opening? Otherwise, the counselling will start.” The apex court will resume regular hearings from July 8 after the summer vacation, which commenced on May 20, ends.

Tagging the plea filed by Shivangi Mishra and nine other MBBS aspirants with a pending petition, the bench said: “Issue notice. In the meantime, the response will be filed by the National Testing Agency.”

The top court, however, did not agree to the submission of lawyer Mathews J. Nedumpara, representing the students, that the counselling of students be stayed in the meantime.

“Let the counselling start, we are not stopping the counselling... We will not stop the counselling. If you argue further, we will dismiss this (the plea),” the bench told the advocate.

The top court allowed the prayer that the fresh plea be tagged with a similar petition filed earlier in which a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had issued notices to the Centre and the NTA on May 17 and that the plea was already listed on July 8.      

The allegation is that exam papers were leaked, and large number of students got the exam papers in advance, and they became successful. Over 23 lakh aspirants appeared for NEET-UG 2024 for 1 lakh seats.

This is the most coveted examination for admission into medical and related courses. In 2024, 67 students scored 720 out of 720 marks.

Petitioner Shivangi Mishra and nine other MBBS candidates sought a direction to the NTA “to recall the results of the examination conducted on May 5 and to conduct the examination afresh after issuing due public notice upon revelation at the end of investigation through a report that large number of examinees are bound to be affected by the declaration of results depriving those qualified examinees of just and fair opportunity to compete in seeking admission in college of their choice.”

The plea has also sought a direction to the Centre and the NTA to take effective and meaningful steps to ensure that "malpractices and fraud", in particular leaking of the question papers as has happened in the previous examination, does not happen again.