The Calcutta High Court has issued a directive to the National Testing Agency (NTA) to file a detailed affidavit in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging irregularities in the NEET (UG) 2024 examination. The PIL, filed by Tanmoy Chattopadhyay, contests the scoring system that reportedly allowed candidates to achieve marks of 718 or 719, which the petitioner argues is impossible under the current marking scheme.

The division bench, comprising Justice Kausik Chanda and Justice Apurba Singh Ray, noted that the NTA has justified the marks awarded by referring to a Supreme Court decision in Akshat Aggarwal and Others v. Union of India and Others, according to Bar and Bench. The Court emphasised the need for an affidavit from the NTA to address the allegations comprehensively.

“It appears that the National Testing Agency sought to justify awarding of such marks based on a judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No.600 of 2018 (Akshat Aggarwal & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.). Justification of such an exercise cannot be decided without an affidavit from the National Testing Agency/ respondent no.1. Accordingly, the respondent no.1 shall file an affidavit within a period of ten days from date in response to the allegations made in this writ petition,” ordered the Court, as quoted by Bar and Bench.

The Court also mandated that the NTA disclose in its affidavit how both state and central government reservation policies were implemented in the merit list for the NEET (UG) 2024 examination. This move aims to ensure transparency and adherence to reservation norms, Bar and Bench’s report stated.

The matter has been scheduled for hearing before a regular bench in two weeks. Until further orders, the Court has directed the NTA to preserve all records related to the NEET (UG) 2024 examination. Furthermore, the Court clarified that the outcome of the counselling process would depend on the resolution of the writ petition.

Deputy Solicitor General of India Dhiraj Kumar Trivedi and advocate Tirtha Pati Acharyya represented the NTA and the Union of India, while advocate Sunit Kumar Roy appeared for the other respondent.

This development follows concerns raised over the integrity and fairness of the NEET (UG) examination process, which is crucial for medical aspirants across the country.

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Delhi High Court Seeks NTA’s Response On Petition Over NEET-UG Answer Key

In another instance, the Delhi High Court on Friday sought the National Testing Agency’s (NTA) stance on a petition filed by a NEET-UG candidate who raised concerns regarding a question in the answer key that had two correct answers. A vacation bench of Justice D.K. Sharma directed the NTA’s counsel to obtain instructions on the matter, news agency PTI reported. The petitioner has requested that equal marks be awarded to those who did not attempt the question, similar to those who selected either of the two correct answers.

The petition argued that fairness in a competitive examination mandates equal evaluation of all candidates. It alleged that the NTA compromised this fairness by awarding marks for two correct options, despite the instructions indicating that only one option should be correct, PTI’s report stated.

The 17-year-old petitioner, in an effort to avoid negatively impacting her score, chose not to attempt the question. She scored 633 out of 720 marks, resulting in a total percentile of approximately 98 and an all-India rank near 44,700 in the entrance examination. The petition emphasised that a single mark could significantly alter her rank, and thus, sought a direction for the NTA to correct and re-publish the NEET-UG 2024 results, ranks, and percentiles based on revised marks, as per the report.

On 3rd June 2024, the NTA published the final answer key. It was observed that for question no. 29 of Test Booklet Code R5, both options 2 and 4 were deemed correct, contrary to the instructions which specified only one correct option. The petition stated, “Not awarding marks in the case of a wrong question and forcing candidates to mark one, in the case of a question having two correct answers, is antithetical to the instruction that only one answer shall be right.”

As per the report, the petition further contended that the results declared by the authorities were arbitrary and based on unfair grace marks given without proper consideration. After the final results were published, it was noted that 67 candidates achieved a perfect score of 720/720, a trend significantly different from previous years.

The matter is scheduled for a hearing next week, PTI reported.

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