TODAY -

The row over NEET-2014
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 13, 2024 -



Whether it was the arrest of five people, including two medical students, in Patna for attempting to leak the question paper or the complaints regarding questions asked in some regional language papers different from the English paper in 2017; or the announcement made in 2018 that the curriculum of state boards would be taken into consideration for the NEET exam which angered parents of students under CBSE and the new guidelines issued that students opting Biology/Biotechnology would not be eligible to appear in the exam, or mentioning of the exam date incorrectly in the admit card and cancellation of exam centres that were allotted originally in 2019, the conduct of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission into medical colleges in India by National Testing Agency (NTA) has always been mired in controversies.

Even though the common entrance test system has been introduced by replacing the earlier All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) and other state-level examinations since 2013 to streamline the admission process for medical courses across India, allegations of widescale irregularities in conducting the examination by NTA year after year have raised more questions about the efficacy of NEET in meeting higher standards in medical education in the country.

So, the uproar over the NEET-2024 centring mainly around the allegations of paper leak at some examination centres where as many as 67 candidates have secured perfect score of 720 out of 720 marks and 1,563 candidates who sat for the entrance test across six examination centres, including two in Chhattisgarh, one each in Meghalaya, Surat, Haryana's Bahadurgarh and Chandigarh, being awarded "grace marks" for "loss of time" because of mistakes made by invigilation staff is not surprising at all.

NTA may have rejected all these allegations, but the fact that a greater number of candidates are coming up to file petitions in the court seeking redressal of their grievances indicate that something was seriously wrong in the whole process of conducting the entrance examination this time.

It's no wonder, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday (June 11) acknowledged that sanctity of the examination has been affected and sought answers from NTA. While hearing a petition seeking cancellation of the NEET-2024, a two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Vikram Nath told the NTA counsel, "It's not so simple that because you have done it (conducted the exam), it's sacrosanct.

We need answers for that... The sanctity has been affected. So, we need answers." Even though the bench has not entertained the plea of the petitioners' counsel senior advocate Mathews J Nedumparato stay the counselling of the selected candidates, there are many areas that NTA needs to come out clean.

NTA may have rejected the allegations of paper leak, but it is yet to explain how could as many as 67 as candidates, six of them from a same exam centre in Haryana, secure a perfect score of 720 out of 720 marks, which is a great departure from the usual three to four students able to achieve the feat.

The fact that even those with a perfect score won't be able to get admission in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi this time as there only 46 seats reserved for the general category, has made the NEET-2024, the results of which were expected around June 14, but declared much ahead on June 4, all the more questionable.

Moreover, even if one is ready to accept the explanation given for awarding "grace marks" to 1,563 candidates for "loss of time", NTA still needs to answer how could some candidates scored 718 or 719 marks which were impossible to get as per the scheme of the exam wherein a candidate is given 4 marks for a correct answer and loses one mark for a wrong one and if a question has not been attempted, then there would be no mark rewarded for it.

To cut a long story short, there are too many glaring discrepancies in the NEET-2014 that are hard to overlook, and hence, should be looked into thoroughly.



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