SC Orders Cancellation of Grace Marks for NEET-UG 2024 Candidates Amid Controversy

Panel Recommends Cancellation of Compensatory Marks; Exam Malpractices Alleged.

Centre Announces Re-Test for Affected Students; Next Court Hearing on July 8

New Delhi: In a significant development in the NEET-UG 2024 controversy, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Thursday, June 13, that it has decided to cancel the grace marks awarded to 1,563 students. These candidates will be notified of their actual scores, excluding the grace marks, and will have the option to appear for a re-test. If they choose not to retake the exam, their original scores from the May 5 examination will be considered.

Advocate Kanu Agarwal, representing the Union Government, conveyed this decision to a vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta. The decision was made by a panel constituted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on June 12, aiming to “allay the fears of the students.” The panel concluded that awarding compensatory marks had created a “skewed situation” because the grace marks were limited to unattempted questions.

Court’s Observations and Orders

The bench noted: “The petitioner who had appeared for NEET-UG 2024 has raised a grievance regarding the grant of compensatory marks to 1,563 candidates using the normalization formula where, at the examination centres, the candidates who were not allowed 3 hours 20 minutes time admissible to them were permitted to take their examination for lesser time. The compensatory marks have been awarded based on the recommendation of a Grievance Redressal Committee relying upon a judgment of this Court in the case of Disha Panchal vs. Union of India and others.”

Following the panel’s recommendations, the Court dictated that the scorecards of the 1,563 affected candidates issued on June 4, 2024, will be cancelled. These candidates will be informed of their actual scores without compensatory marks and will be offered a re-examination. If they opt out of the re-test, their scores from the May 5 exam will be finalized.

Senior Advocate Naresh Kaushik, representing the NTA, stated that the re-test would be notified immediately and is likely to be held on June 23. The results will be published before June 30 to ensure that the counselling scheduled for July 6 can commence as planned.

Legal Challenges and Petitions

The Court also dealt with multiple petitions challenging the NEET-UG 2024 results. One petition, filed by Physics Wallah CEO Alakh Pandey, argued that the NTA’s decision to award grace marks was “arbitrary.” Pandey’s petition, supported by representations from about 20,000 students, highlighted that approximately 70-80 marks were randomly awarded as grace marks to at least 1,500 students. This petition was closed with respect to the issue of grace marks, but other grievances remain under consideration.

Another petition, filed by SIO members Abdullah Mohammed Faiz and Dr. Shaik Roshan Mohiddin, called for the recall of the NEET-UG 2024 results and a fresh exam over alleged paper leaks and other malpractices. The Court issued a notice on this petition, which is tagged with similar petitions and scheduled for a hearing on July 8.

A third petition by NEET candidate Jaripiti Kartheek challenged the awarding of grace marks as compensation for the alleged loss of time during the exam. Kartheek argued that the normalization formula could only extend to unanswered questions proportional to the lost time. This petition was disposed of today.

NTA’s Response and Public Reaction

On June 8, the NTA and the Union Education Ministry announced the formation of a four-member committee to review the results of over 1,500 candidates who were awarded grace marks. The committee, headed by a former UPSC chairman, recommended offering the affected candidates a re-test or accepting their non-normalized scores.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), the NTA announced, “Subsequent to the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s observations on the report of NTA’s High Powered Committee, the grace/compensatory marks awarded to all 1,563 students stand withdrawn. A re-test of all the 1,563 candidates will be held on 23rd June 2024. NTA will issue a Public Notice shortly and will also contact these 1,563 candidates through email to ensure they receive the official communication.

Students have voiced their concerns, with many expressing that the NTA’s decision to award grace marks caused significant injustice to lakhs of candidates. They have called for an investigation into the NTA officials responsible for this decision.

Ongoing Legal Proceedings

On June 11, the Supreme Court issued a notice on another petition filed before the NEET-UG results were declared, seeking cancellation of the exam over alleged paper leaks. Observing the potential impact on the exam’s integrity, the Court sought a response from the NTA on these allegations by July 8 but refused to stay the counselling process.

Follow Live Updates

Stay tuned for live updates on this evolving story as the Supreme Court continues to address the complexities surrounding the NEET-UG 2024 examination and the allegations of malpractices.

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