Minister Explains Why NEET Exam Is Not Cancelled Despite Paper Leak Probe

New Delhi:

The government has opted to not cancel the medical entrance examination NEET, despite a raging controversy and an ongoing investigation of the paper being leaked a day before the exam. Explaining their stand, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the leak affected only a limited number of students, contrasting sharply with previous incidents in 2004 and 2015 where broader leaks led to exam cancellations. He said that cancelling the exam would affect lakhs of students who cleared the examination rightfully.

He also said that the case is being heard by the Supreme Court, and any decision taken by the court will be the final one.

A row erupted after 67 students scored a perfect 720 in the NEET-UG exam, and the National Testing Agency clarified that they had given grace marks to some students due to a wrong question and delay in candidates getting the question paper late.

Nearly 24 lakh students participated in the NEET-UG 2024 examination for undergraduate medical programs, administered by the NTA, held on May 5. The results were released ahead of schedule on June 4. However, controversy arose with claims of a question paper leak and the awarding of grace marks to more than 1,500 students, leading to widespread protests and legal actions, including cases filed in various courts, notably the Supreme Court, which has strongly criticised the NTA’s handling of the matter.

The Centre has refused to cancel the exam as the leak is believed to be localised and only a couple of students from Bihar were the beneficiaries. A student and three other accused have been arrested and are being questioned in Bihar.

Terming the leak of the UGC-NET exam’s question paper an “institutional failure” of the National Testing Agency (NTA), Mr Pradhan said the government will constitute a high-level panel to look into the functioning of the agency, but said that there was no need to cancel the exam.

“It is unfair to hold hostage the career of those candidates who have rightfully cleared the exam because of some isolated incidents of malpractice,” Mr Pradhan said at a press conference in New Delhi.

“We are in constant touch with the Bihar Police. We have sought a report from them. Once we have it, we will decide the future course of action. I take full responsibility and anomalies in the system will be rectified. Let us have faith in our systems and no irregularities or malpractices will be tolerated by the government,” the minister said.

He also appealed to the opposition parties not to politicise the issue and said strict action would be taken against those found guilty, including “top” officials of the NTA.

The Ministry of Education has expedited its response to the issue, acknowledging concerns over grace marks and affirming that these have already been appropriately addressed.