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What Centre Tells Supreme Court on NEET Exam

Reiterating its stand on the NEET-UG controversy, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it does not intend to scrap the examination and hold a retest. It has also emphasized that there were no large-scale irregularities in the exam, in which 24 lakh students appeared.

Submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which will hear petitions on the issue on Monday, the Centre said scrapping the 2024 exam in its entirety would “seriously jeopardise” the future lakhs of honest candidates who appeared for it. In the absence of proof of any large-scale breach of confidentiality in the examination, it argued that it would not be rational to take the step.

Pointing out that the CBI has been asked to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations, the government said it is committed to conducting all exams in a fair and transparent manner.

“The Union India duly appreciates that the confidentiality of the question papers is the utmost priority in any examination and that if due to some criminality at the behest of some criminal elements, the confidentiality has been breached, the Union of India submits that the said person must be dealt sternly and with the full force of law to ensure that they are punished,” the affidavit said.

The Centre’s affidavit comes at a time when it finds itself at the receiving end of protests because of the irregularities not just in NEET-UG but also in UGC-NET, which had led to the exam being cancelled a day after it was held. The NEET-PG and CSIR UGC NET exams also had to be postponed.

All of these things led to huge questions being raised about the National Testing Agency, formed in 2017, which conducts all of these exams. Facing criticism not just from students but also the Opposition, which has a louder voice now, given its much-improved showing in the Lok Sabha elections, the government replaced the head of the NTA and handed over the probe into the irregularities to the CBI. 

The central agency has made several arrests in the case but questions are still being asked by students as well as the opposition parties. 

The affidavit is in line with what Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has maintained. Addressing a press conference last month, the minister had said, “Lakhs of students, many of them meritorious candidates who are poor or from rural areas, have got good marks and good ranks. Their career should not be held hostage because of isolated incidents. We are ready to make all needed improvements. None of the guilty will be spared.”

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