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No evidence of paper leak in NEET-UG: Minister

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Says opposition spreading lies without knowing facts

New Delhi: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday rejected allegations of paper leak or rigging in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG, saying there is no evidence to substantiate the claims, and accused the opposition of spreading lies without knowing facts.

The results of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) were announced by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on June 4.

“No concrete evidence of any kind of rigging, corruption or paper leak has been found so far in the NEET exam. All the facts related to this are before the Supreme Court and are under consideration. The kind of politics being done on this issue is only an attempt to spread confusion and it affects the mental peace of the students,” Pradhan said.

“Currently, the counselling process of NEET is about to start and making it a subject of political sparring is not only unfair but it is like playing with the future generation. The focus of the central government is always on ensuring a bright future for the students,” he added.

His comments came on a day the NTA told the Supreme court that the decision to award grace marks to 1,563 candidates in NEET-UG for admission to MBBS, BDS and other courses was cancelled and they would be given the option to take a retest on June 23.

The Congress on Thursday again demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the NEET-UG exam issue and asserted that the anger in the country over the matter will “reverberate inside Parliament as well”.

The opposition party also sought the removal of the NTA director general and claimed that the BJP government’s attitude towards the ongoing demand for an inquiry into the examination is “irresponsible and insensitive”.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the award of grace marks was not the only problem in the NEET-UG exam.

“There has been rigging, papers have been leaked, corruption has taken place. The future of 24 lakh students appearing in the NEET examination is at stake due to the actions of the Modi government,” he alleged.

Responding to the allegations, Pradhan said in a post on X, “The opposition is issueless, on such a sensitive issue the opposition is just spreading lies without knowing the facts. Congress is playing with the future of the country for its petty politics.”

“I want to remind the Congress that to prevent paper leak and to conduct a cheating-free exam, the central government passed the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act this year, which has many strict provisions. Congress should not be under misconception that if any nexus is found, no action will be taken against it. The provisions of this act will be implemented very carefully,” he added.

The NTA has come under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the medical entrance exam.

The education ministry last week set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to 1,563 students to compensate them for “loss of time” due to delay in starting the examination at certain centres.

“The panel was headed by former UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) chairman Pradeep Kumar Joshi and included the National Medical Commission (NMC) secretary, besides others. Each and every grievance has been reviewed and then only the panel made its recommendations,” Pradhan told reporters earlier in the day, after taking charge as Union education minister for the second time.

“If these candidates do not wish to take the retest, then their earlier marks, sans the grace marks, will be given for the purpose of results. The grace marks that were awarded earlier were not at the whims and fancy of NTA but were based on a SC formula, there is a basis to those calculations. If there are certain anomalies, those will be rectified and we will ensure that no student is at a disadvantage,” he added.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that the sanctity of NEET-UG, 2024, had been affected, a charge denied by the NTA.

The top court, however, refused to stay the counselling process for admissions.

“If the candidates, out of the 1,563, do not wish to take up the retest then their earlier marks, sans the grace marks, will be given for the purposes of the results,” the Centre informed the apex court on Thursday.

“The results of the retest will be declared on June 30 and counselling for admissions in MBBS, BDS and other courses will start on July 6,” it said.


Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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