Supreme Court notice to govt, NTA on pleas for cancelling NEET-UG, seeks response [20.6.2024]

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses from the Centre, the National Testing Agency (NTA) and others on petitions, including those seeking the scrapping of NEET-UG 2024 exam and a court-monitored probe into the alleged irregularities in the medical entrance test.

The apex court also stayed further proceedings on some pleas on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate)-2024 examination pending before different high courts in the country.

A vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and SVN Bhatti issued notices to the parties seeking their responses on four separate pleas filed by the NTA seeking transfer of some pending petitions, including those concerning alleged paper leak, from the high courts to the apex court.

As the bench issued notices on NTA's petitions, the counsel appearing for the agency urged that proceedings in these matters before the high court be stayed.

"Issue notice, returnable on July 8," the bench said, adding, "In the meantime, further proceedings before the high courts shall remain stayed".

It also dealt with several other petitions, including the one filed by 20 students who had appeared in the medical entrance test and are seeking scrapping of the exam which was held on May 5.

They have also sought a direction to the NTA and others to conduct the test afresh.

The bench, which issued notices to the Centre, NTA and others seeking their responses on these petitions, said the pleas would be heard on July 8 along with other pending matters concerning the NEET-UG 2024.

During the hearing, the bench made clear that it was not staying the counselling process.

"All this has been argued from day one and they (some petitioners) have been wanting stay of counselling. We have denied that," the bench observed. "Ultimately, if all of you succeed, everything will go. The examination goes and the counselling will also go."

An advocate, appearing for one of the petitioners, said the counselling can be deferred until after July 8.

The bench asked the NTA's counsel about the counselling. "The counselling will start on July 6, but it will not finish on July 6. It will take time," the NTA's counsel said.

Another counsel informed the bench that a person has been arrested in Bihar in connection with the probe into alleged irregularities in the exam.

The lawyer said FIRs have been lodged in Bihar and Gujarat regarding the alleged irregularities and the police should be asked to give status report of their investigation in these matter.

During the hearing, the bench observed that petitioners in the matter were making similar arguments.

The counsel appearing for the Centre said many a times, coaching institutes have also come as petitioners.

"They have a right to come. Because their business is these students only and if you play with them and you meddle with their rights, then these coaching centres will come," the bench observed.

While hearing separate pleas concerning the NEET (Undergraduate)-2024 examination, the apex court had on June 18 said even if there was "0.001 per cent negligence" on the part of anyone in the conduct of the examination, it should be thoroughly dealt with.

The NTA conducts the all India pre-medical entrance test.

While hearing separate petitions raising grievances over the NEET-UG 2024, the apex court had last week sought responses from the Centre and the NTA on a plea for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into allegations of question paper leak and other irregularities in the exam.

The Centre and the NTA had on June 13 told the top court that they had cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates who took the examination for admission to MBBS and other such courses.

They will have the option to either take a retest or forgo the compensatory marks awarded to them for the loss of time, the Centre had said.

The examination was held on May 5 across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates took it. The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced on June 4, apparently because the evaluation of the answer sheets got completed earlier.

There have been allegations of question paper leaks in states like Bihar and other irregularities in the prestigious exam.

The allegations have led to protests in several cities and filing of petitions in several high courts as also the Supreme Court. Scores of students protested in Delhi on June 10 seeking a probe into alleged irregularities.

20 Jun 2024