Education minister meets NEET-UG aspirants amid uncertainty over medical entrance exam

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NEET-UG Dharmendra Pradhan

New Delhi: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday met some NEET aspirants at his residence, amid a raging row over alleged irregularities in the conduct of the medical entrance exam this year.

According to sources, the students raised issues like the uncertainty prevailing over the fate of the exam which was conducted in May, the delay in the counselling process and ultimately the academic calendar.

While there have been demand for a restest from several quarters, the education ministry has maintained the incidents of paper leak were localised, and by cancelling the exam in toto it cannot jeopardise the careers of lakhs of candidates who cleared t he test fairly.

The matter has also reached the Supreme Court, which on Thursday adjourned till July 18 the hearing on the clutch of petitions seeking that exam be cancelled and the test be reconducted. The petitioners have probe also sought a probe into the alleged malpractices. The ministry has informed the Supreme Court that a data analytics of the results of NEET-UG 2024 was conducted by IIT Madras which found there was neither any indication of "mass malpractice" nor a localised set of candidates benefiting from it and scoring abnormally high marks.

The government's assertion assumes significance in view of the observations made by the top court on July 8 that it may order a re-test if there were large-scale malpractices in holding the exam. The matter is being investigated by CBI.

Over 23.33 lakh students had taken the test on May 5 at 4,750 centres in 571 cities, including in 14 cities overseas.

The Centre and the NTA, in their earlier affidavits filed in the apex court, had said that scrapping the exam would be "counterproductive" and "seriously jeopardise" lakhs of honest candidates in the absence of any proof of large-scale breach of confidentiality.

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.