Image Source : PTI Students raise slogans during protest over alleged irregularities in NEET 2024 results

Paper leak row: In a major action amid the paper leak row, the Centre sacked Subodh Kumar Singh as the director general of the exam body National Testing Agency (NTA) and replaced him with Pradeep Singh Kharola, IAS, on the post on Saturday (June 22). The government’s latest action comes in a series of steps starting from notifying the ‘Anti-paper leak’ law on Friday, to constituting a 7-member expert panel aiming to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations. The moves come as the row over the NEET-UG continued over a week. UGC-NET was cancelled, a day after its conduct as the question paper was leaked on darknet.

The Centre operationalised a stringent law that aims to curb malpractices and irregularities in competitive examinations and entails provisions for a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore for offenders. Nearly four months after President Droupadi Murmu gave assent to The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, the Personnel Ministry on Friday night issued a notification, saying the provisions of the law will come into force from June 21.

Who is Pradeep Singh Kharola, new DG of NTA?

Pradeep Singh Kharola is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of India Trade Promotion and has been appointed as the Director General of National Testing Agency as an additional charge. Kharola is a 1985 batch IAS officer.

Who all are there in the expert committee formed by the Centre?

The Union Ministry of Education has constituted a high-level committee of experts to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations. Dr K Radhakrishnan, Former Chairman, ISRO and Chairman BoG, IIT Kanpur, will head the panel of 7 experts. The other constituent members include Dr. Randeep Guleria, Former Director, AIIMS Delhi, Prof. B J Rao, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad, Prof. Ramamurthy K, Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, Pankaj Bansal, Co-Founder, People Strong and Board Member- Karmayogi Bharat, Prof. Aditya Mittal, Dean Student Affairs, IIT Delhi, Govind Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education.

Row over paper leaks

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

As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA’s history, with six from a centre in Haryana’s Faridabad figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to 67 students sharing the top rank. The NEET-UG examination is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday (June 20) disclosed the reason behind the cancellation of UGC-NET, stating that the decision to call off the exam was taken after it was found that the question paper was leaked on darknet.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case to probe the question paper leak of the exam conducted by the NTA. Opposition parties have also alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG, the results of which were announced by NTA on June 4.

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