New Delhi: Amid an escalating political controversy over the alleged NEET-UG paper leak, education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said lakhs of students who legitimately cleared the entrance test could not be penalised for “isolated incidents of malpractices”.
“You will be glad to know that a large number of students from rural areas have performed exceedingly well this year on their own, without having availed of coaching by private institutions,” Pradhan said.
He added that his ministry was evaluating details of Bihar police‘s probe. Cops have claimed to have found evidence “suggestive” of paper leak, but Pradhan said action would be taken on the basis of “concrete evidence for which we are in touch with Bihar police”.
Pradhan added, “No malpractices will be tolerated and the government is committed to holding zero-error exams.” Addressing a press conference, Pradhan promised tough action against National Testing Agency (NTA) officials for any irregularity, took moral responsibility for shortcomings and promised consultation with global experts for a zero-error exam, but stopped short of giving in to the demand to scrap the medical entrance test.
Pradhan announced that the govt would soon form a high-level panel to review the NTA’s functioning. “The committee will make recommendations to improve NTA, its structure, functioning, examination process, transparency and data security protocols,” he said. The minister said his ministry was evaluating details of the investigation conducted by Bihar Police.
The cops have claimed to have found evidence “suggestive” of paper leak, but Pradhan said action would be taken on the basis of “evidence for which we are in touch with the police”. The press conference was convened on a day of political drama over the NEET controversy, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi demanding cancellation of the exam and an independent probe.
In response, Pradhan said the matter need not be politicised. He walked a fine line between emphasising his govt’s commitment to protect the interests of students and protect the transparency and integrity of examinations, on one hand, and a palpable intent not to cancel the test straightaway unless the govt came across credible evidence of largescale irregularity, especially paper leak.