Centre opposes cancellation of NEET-UG exam in SC

New Delhi: The Centre, in a preliminary affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Friday opposed the batch of pleas seeking cancellation of the NEET-UG examination, for admission in undergraduate medical programmes, saying it would affect “lakhs of honest candidates” who appeared in it on May 5.

The Union Ministry of Education said that scrapping the entire exam would seriously jeopardise the interests of the lakhs of honest candidates who attempted the question paper held on May 5 this year.

“In the absence of any proof of any large-scale breach of confidentiality in a pan-India examination, it would not be rational to scrap the entire examination and the results already declared. It is submitted that in any examination, there are competing rights that have been created whereby the interests of a large number of students who have taken the examination without adopting any alleged unfair means must not also be jeopardised,” the affidavit said.

As regards the alleged instances of irregularities, including cheating, impersonation, and malpractices, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is undertaking an investigation and has taken over the cases registered in different states, it added.

The Centre said that it is committed to conducting all competitive examinations in a fair and transparent manner and if at the behest of some criminal elements, the confidentiality of competitive examinations has been breached, they must be dealt with sternly and with the full force of law to ensure that they are punished.

“The Government is committed to ensure the sanctity of examinations and protect the interest of students. To ensure transparency, fairness, and credibility in public examination, Parliament has enacted the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024 on 12.02.2024. The Act was brought into effect on 21.06.2024 and provides for stringent punishment for offences related to unfair means in public examinations. Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Rules, 2024 under the Act have also been notified on 23.06.2024,” it said.

Recently, the top court had expressed reservations over the filing of a writ petition by a coaching institute alleging irregularities in the conduct of the NEET-UG exam.

“What fundamental rights of yours are violated to enable you to maintain a writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution?” a vacation bench had asked the senior counsel representing Xylem Learning, a coaching institution providing assistance to NEET students.

Meanwhile, President Droupadi Murmu, in her address to a joint sitting of Parliament, asserted that the government was committed to a fair investigation and ensuring strict punishment to the guilty in the instances of paper leaks.

“Even earlier, we have witnessed many instances of paper leaks in different states. It is important that we rise above party politics and undertake concrete measures nationwide. Parliament has also enacted a strict law against unfair means in examinations,” she added.

The Supreme Court is slated to hear on July 8 the batch of petitions pertaining to the NEET-UG exam, including its cancellation.

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