The Bombay High Court has directed the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) afresh for two medical college aspirants as they had been handed question papers and answer sheets with incorrect serial numbers during the recently held exam. The order was passed by the high court on Wednesday on a petition filed by the two students through advocate Pooja Thorat.
Holding that two young students aspiring to be study medicine “shall not suffer” because of mistakes on part of a school, Bombay high court on Wednesday directed that re-examination of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) be held for them. The HC came to the aid of two 19-year-olds who said the invigilators at their entrance centre in Solapur in September handed them mismatched test booklets and answer sheets and did not rectify the “blunder” when they pointed out.
NEET 2021 was held on September 12. The HC directed the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the examination afresh for the duo, after giving them a clear 48-hour notice of the date and the test centre. The results will have to be declared then within two weeks, the HC bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and Abhay Ahuja directed, making it clear that the order was not to be cited as a precedent.
The students — Vaishnavi Bhopale and Abhishek Kapse — petitioned the HC, and their lawyer Pooja Thorat sought directions for a separate NEET examination for the academic year 2021-22. The petitioners said their invigilators started giving test booklets and OMR (Optical Mark Reader) answer sheets to the 12 students in their classroom five minutes late.
The students said they were allotted the same classroom and same row and there were two examiners or invigilators. While one invigilator distributed question paper booklets the other distributed the OMR sheets. Bhopale said she received a booklet with CODE 04 and answer booklet of CODE P4, whereas Kapse got test booklet of CODE P4 and answer booklet of CODE 04.
They immediately pointed out the mismatch to the examiners, they said, but alleged that they were “threatened with dire consequences of reporting them for causing nuisance and disturbance in the exam hall.’’ The duo said that they started answering the test but due to the “confusion and anxiety” caused by the mistake, could not complete the paper in the three-hour slot.
Thorat pointed to a clause in the test booklet which required the codes to match the question and answer sheets and also stipulated that “in case of discrepancy the candidate should immediately report the matter to the invigilator for replacement of both the test booklet and answer sheet.’’
She said two days after the examination, the “senior director’’ of the School ”admitted their mistake’’ and tendered an apology for the mistake, the HC recorded. On September 28, the HC in an interim order had directed the NTA not to declare the duo’s result and to produce the original NEET papers for the Court’s perusal to verify the authenticity of the students’ grievance in the petition. The HC noted that the NTA did not comply with its directions but said they sought information from the School which was the test centre.
The School later admitted their mistake, said the HC which had asked NTA and the Central government to find out a solution on October 11. When the matter came up again before the HC on October 20, the NTA and said it was not possible for them to find a solution and especially one that would permit a re-examination as there were 16 lakh students.
The HC noted that the NTA also admitted that the school was performing invigilation duty for the first time in NEET and “in a hurry six booklets fells down and the test booklets were mixed up with different OMR sheets.’’ “They realized their mistake only at 2.30 pm and could not inform their Centre superintendent in time.’’
The HC said the students cannot suffer because of the mistakes of the school and also directed the NTA and the Central government through the Ministry of Health to frame appropriate rules or guidelines to provide “remedial measures” in case of such difficulties which may arise in future, keeping in mind the interest of such students.
This will be the last opportunity to correct particulars submitted during the first and second phases of the application.
“This facility is also available for candidates who have done one-time corrections in these particular fields earlier,” the agency said.
“The candidates are strongly advised to check, cross-check, and verify their registered e address and ensure that it is their own e-mail address only as NTA will be sending the scanned scorecard to the registered e-mail address,” it added.
Candidates can expect NEET result 2021 soon after the phase 2 registration and correction window closes. NEET scorecards will be released at neet.nta.nic.in. However, there is no official confirmation yet on the NEET 2021 result date.