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    ‘NEET Scam’: Why NTA’s clarifications on NEET results raise more questions

    NEET UG 2024: Grace marks for NEET toppers, soaring cut-offs, paper-leak rumours, dates – how the NEET 2024 result controversy unfolded.


    Despite two clarifications by the National Testing Agency (NTA) regarding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET UG) 2024 results, miffed medical aspirants are demanding re-examination and a probe into the alleged ‘NEET Scam 2024’. Students, coaching owners, and medical student leaders are also questioning the NTA’s policy of awarding grace marks to NEET UG 2024 candidates


    Even opposition leaders are weighing in, demanding accountability and joining social media campaigns asking the union government to cancel the NEET-UG 2024 exam held on May 5. In Kanpur, students held a protest against the NTA on Thursday evening.

    Here’s how NEET 2024 went so horribly wrong.

    NEET UG-2024: A brief timeline

    The NTA announced the NEET UG results on June 4, the day the results of the Lok Sabha elections 2024 were declared. Candidates alleged that the NTA released the results 10 days before the scheduled date of June 14, timing it to land during the confusion and excitement of a general election result declaration to dodge scrutiny.

    They also questioned why the NTA had re-opened the application portal even after one extension of last date for NEET-UG applications 2024. Given below is a quick timeline of events related to the NTA NEET exam.

    February 9: The NTA opened registration for NEET with March 9 as the deadline.

    March 9: The NTA extended the last day of NEET UG 2024 application to March 16. It offered a correction window from March 18 to 20.

    April 8: One month after the application process began, the NTA re-opened online registrations for two days from April 9 to April 10 on “stakeholders’ requests”. It again offered a correction window from April 11 to 15.

    May 5: The NTA held the NEET UG exam on May 5 at 4,750 centres across 571 cities in India, including 14 outside the country. Out of 24,06,079 registered candidates, 23,33,297 appeared in the exam.

    May 5: The NTA in a notice said that there was an incident of incorrect distribution of question papers at one examination centre, Girls Higher Secondary Model School at Mandir, Mantown in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. It conducted a re-exam for about 120 affected candidates the same day from that particular exam centre.

    May 6: After malpractices and incidents of paper leak were reported from Gujarat and Bihar respectively, the NTA in a statement said, “There have been cases of malpractice/impersonation where strict action has been taken on impersonators/candidates.” It said allegations of paper leak were “completely baseless and without any ground”.

    May 29: The NTA issued NEET UG 2024 answer key and announced that May 31 was the last day for challenging answers.

    May 31: The NTA extended the last day of answer key challenge to June 1.

    June 3: The NTA announced the final answer key for NEET UG 2024 .

    June 4: The NTA declared the NEET-UG 2024 results on June 4 instead of its scheduled date of June 14 with an unprecedented 67 candidates securing All India Rank1, including eight students from the same examination centre in Haryana.

    June 4: After aspirants raised questions about the NEET-UG 2024 results and the high cut-offs, the NTA in a statement said that students were awarded grace marks for the loss of time.

    June 6: The NTA clarification on NEET 2024 arrived. It explained that students scored 718 and 719 marks as they were granted grace marks. It also justified why the results were declared on June 4 instead of the scheduled date.

    NEET UG 2024: Malpractices, paper leak

    The call for the cancellation of the NEET UG 2024 exam started a day before the entrance exam, when a video of a masked man claiming paper leak by the ‘mastermind’ went viral on social media, prompting aspirants and others to urge NTA for an investigation. The same video was circulating online in April as well.

    A schoolteacher and two others were booked by Gujarat Police on May 9 for trying to help six candidates clear the NEET-UG exam 2024 by solving their papers for Rs 10 lakh each. A physics teacher, Tushar Bhatt, who was the deputy superintendent of an exam centre in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district, was booked along with two others – Parsuram Roy and Arif Vora.

    By May 11, the Bihar Police arrested 13 people in connection with the alleged question paper leak of NEET-UG 2024. According to police, these people allegedly provided NEET UG 2024 question papers and answers to 35 medical aspirants before the exam. Earlier, the NTA had issued a statement saying that social media posts claiming the NEET 2024 paper leak were completely baseless and without any ground.

    Odisha Police on May 7 arrested three people for allegedly cheating in the NEET-UG examination. They were “caught cheating” during the examination held at a private institution near Gelpur village in the Bhadrak district, a police officer said.

    In its latest statement on June 6, the NTA said that action has been taken against Unfair Means (UFM) cases, including the cancellation of candidature and debarment from future examinations of NTA.

    “The NTA has registered cases against impersonators and some cases have been registered by the state police. It has been extending support, wherever required, to the agencies in investigating cases pertaining to NEET (UG) 2024. While the outcome of the investigation in aforesaid cases is awaited, NTA has categorically denied any case of paper leak,” the agency said, adding that it “maintains that the integrity of the examination was not compromised.”

    NEET UG 2024 results: High cut-offs

    While justifying its decision to advance the NEET 2024 result date, NTA said: “As per practice, the result of NTA Examinations, including NEET (UG), is declared at the earliest on the completion of the necessary checks in the result processing post the answer key challenge period. NTA managed to declare the results of about 23 lakh candidates within 30 days. The Result of JEE (Main) 2024 Session-1 was declared in 11 days and of Session-2 (combined with Session- 1) was declared in 15 days. The result of NEET (UG) 2024 has been processed as per the established procedure.”

    There are a total of 1,08,940 MBBS seats (latest data available) in 706 medical colleges across the country. A total of 13,16,268 candidates out of 23,33,297 qualified the NEET UG 2024 even though the cut-offs witnessed a steep hike. The NEET UG cut-off 2024 for the general category candidates has gone up from 720-137 last year to 720-164 this year.

    NEET 2024 Toppers List: 67 in AIR 1

    In total, 67 students scored 720/720 marks and got All India Rank (AIR) 1. In 2023, just two students had scored 720/720. Coaching owners, aspirants, educationists and opposition leaders have raised concerns regarding this unprecedented number of perfect scores and have also questioned the integrity of the examination process.

    Surprisingly, among the 67 candidates who secured AIR-1, eight are from the same examination centre in Haryana and seven of the eight toppers from that Haryana centre have given only their first names.

    “…. This is very sad and shocking. Why is the government ignoring the voice of lakhs of students? Students want answers to legitimate questions related to the rigging in the NEET exam results. Is it not the government’s responsibility to investigate and resolve these legitimate complaints?,” Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi said in a post on X while raising concerns regarding NEET-UG 2024 results.

    “The cut-off scores are determined based on the overall performance of candidates each year. The increase in cut-off reflects the competitive nature of the examination and the higher performance standards achieved by the candidates this year,” the NTA said. It also insisted that there were more toppers due to the increase in the number of candidates and that the toppers are from across the country.

    NEET UG 2024: NTA grace marks

    Some candidates who appeared in NEET UG 2024 received 718 and 719 marks. In NEET UG, each question carries a maximum of four marks with a -1 negative mark for every wrong answer.

    “We need an explanation of the normalisation criteria of NEET results. And at how many centres was the normalisation applied? Multiple theories have risen due to the current situation. Students demand to know the truth,” said Alakh Pandey, owner of PhysicsWallah coaching.

    After students raised questions on the scoring issue, the NTA on June 4 said it awarded grace marks also for ‘loss of time’. Later on June 6, the agency gave two explanations for awarding grace marks to over 1,500 students.

    The NTA said that it constituted a grievance redressal committee consisting of experts from the field of examination and academia to look into writ petitions filed in High Courts and representations submitted to the agency. The committee considered the grievances and representations on the basis of factual reports of the functionaries and CCTV footage from concerned exam centres.

    “The loss of examination time was ascertained and such candidates were compensated with marks based on their answering efficiency and time lost, as per the mechanism/formula established by the Hon’ble Apex Court… 1,563 candidates were compensated for loss of time and the revised marks of such candidates vary from -20 to 720 marks. Amongst these, the score of two candidates also happens to be 718 and 719 marks, respectively, due to compensatory marks.” the NTA said.

    The NTA had received 13,373 challenges to the provisional answer key of one particular question in Physics. “Due to the differences in the old and new editions of the NCERT textbook, subject expert(s) held that two options be taken as correct in place of one for this question,” it said.

    The agency said that of the 67 candidates who got 720/720 marks, “44 are on account of revision in one answer key of Physics and six are on account of compensatory marks for loss of time”.

    But despite the clarifications, aggrieved students are questioning how the NTA measured who lost how much time. The apex court judgment referred by the NTA for awarding compensatory marks to students was issued with the conduct of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2018.

    “CLAT is an online exam in which the system records the exact login time which can be used to find the precise amount of time lost by each student to the second. NEET is an offline exam, which makes it impossible to determine the time lost with precision,” said Sulochna, a researcher at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, in a post on X.

    NEET UG 2024: Court cases, PILs, petitions

    An online petition on Change.org by Pragesh Chandra, associate director of NEET Adda247 coaching, demands “a re-examination to ensure a fair and transparent evaluation process for all students”. The petition has received nearly 15,000 signatures.

    Two NEET 2024 candidates – Rishabh Kumar and Sonal Chaudhary – from Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar have submitted a memorandum to the education ministry on Friday regarding the NEET 2024 irregularities. They have urged the union government to carry out a probe into the alleged paper leak.

    Activist Dr Vivek Pandey has also filed a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking clarity from the NTA on NEET 2024 grace marks allocation.

    A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has also been filed in the Patna High Court seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the NEET UG 2024 “paper leak case” and cancellation of the national-level entrance test for admission to UG medical courses.

    On May 17, the Supreme Court declined to grant a stay on NEET UG 2024 exam results. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra said it cannot halt a nationwide exam but issued a notice to the central government regarding the plea and requested its response.

    “We will schedule it for after the summer break, but we cannot stay the results of an all-India exam,” the court observed. The summer vacation commenced on May 20 and the court will resume its sitting on July 8.

    The Calcutta High Court has also sought a response from the NTA on a plea questioning alleged irregularities while conducting the NEET examination.

    Meanwhile, an 18-year-old medical aspirant allegedly jumped to death from the ninth floor of a building in Kota, a day after the NEET-UG results were declared, Rajasthan police said on June 6. This is the 10th case of student suicide in Kota this year.

    “NTA’s NEET exam is constantly surrounded by controversies and students are dying by suicide,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana, Randeep Surjewala. “What kind of examination is conducted by NTA?”

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