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What Is NEET Controversy? What Did Testing Agency Say? FAQs Answered

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The National Testing Agency (NTA) on Thursday scrapped the grace marks awarded to 1,563 NEET-UG 2024 candidates at six centres across the country. These students can opt for a re-test on June 23, the results of which will be declared on June 30. Over 24 lakh students appeared in the NEET UG medical entrance exam, and the issue of grace marks became national headlines after students and coaching centre heads alleged irregularities and corruption within the National Testing Agency (NTA), which holds these exams, leading to protests across the country.

Here is a look at what has happened so far:

Inflated marks and allegations of paper leak: The controversy began after marksheets of some successful candidates surfaced on social media. Users who posted these images pointed out that a record 67 candidates secured the top rank with perfect score. Of these, around six candidates had appeared for the exam from the same centre. Students have been alleging the marks have been randomly reduced or increased for several candidates, affecting their ranks. 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. In total, 1,563 students received the grace marks.

Also Read | NEET UG Result 2024: Top Rankers Reduced To 61 As Grace Marks Withdrawn

Why 1,563 students? Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that aspirants at some centres were given the wrong set of papers. These students appeared for exam at six centres in Meghalaya, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Surat and Chandigarh. These students (totalling 1,563) claimed that 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.

What NTA said? As the controversy blew up, the National Testing Agency (NTA) came out with a statement maintaining that the sanctity of the exam has not been compromised. It said that rise in the number of top scorers reflects the increase in the competitiveness of the exam and improvement in performance standards. According to officials, grace marks were 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.

Education Ministry denies paper leak: The ministry has set up a four-member expert panel headed by former UPSC chairman to review the entire matter. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, however, denied the allegations saying there is no evidence of paper leak and claims of corruption in NTA.

Politics over NEET controversy: The matter has also caught the attention of political parties in the country. The Congress has been demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the NEET exam, asserting that the anger in the country over the matter will “reverberate inside Parliament as well”. Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi accused the Union 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.

What the Supreme Court said? While hearing a bunch of petitions, the top court noted that the sanctity of NEET has been affected by the controversy but it refused to stay the counselling process for admissions. An expert panel of NTA told the court on Thursday that the decision to give grace marks to 1,563 candidates for admission to MBBS, BDS and others courses had been cancelled and they would be given an option to take a re-test on June 23. If the candidates do not wish to take up the re-test then their earlier marks, minus the grace marks, will be given for the purposes of the results. The results of the re-test will be declared on June 30 and the counselling for admission in the MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on July 6.

 As the controversy blew up, NTA came out with a statement maintaining that the sanctity of the exam has not been compromised.    

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