New Delhi, June 12 -- The National Testing Agency (NTA) plans to approach the Supreme Court to consolidate petitions filed by NEET-UG candidates across various high courts. These petitions concern alleged random granting of grace marks, paper leaks, and evaluation anomalies, the Delhi High Court was informed on Wednesday.

Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, presiding over a vacation bench, issued a notice to the NTA and requested responses to four petitions filed by NEET-UG 2024 candidates. The high court also declined to halt the counselling process, similar to a decision by the Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that multiple petitions related to the NEET-UG 2024 examination's alleged irregularities are pending in seven different high courts and the Supreme Court. Mehta indicated that the NTA will file a transfer petition in the apex court to consolidate these cases aiming to avoid conflicting rulings from different high courts.

"We are filing transfer petitions in the Supreme Court because there is a likelihood of conflicting views by different high courts. Could your lordship consider waiting for a week or two? We will file a transfer petition," Mehta stated.

These petitions broadly address issues such as the grant of grace/compensatory marks, alleged paper leaks, and anomalies in certain question evaluations.

Petitioners' counsel requested the court to delay the counselling process or ensure it is subject to the petitions' outcomes, but the high court declined to issue such an order. Mehta referenced a Supreme Court order where similar relief was not granted.

One petitioner highlighted a question with two correct answers in the answer key, arguing that fairness dictates equal marks should be given to those who did not attempt the question. The petitioner, a 17-year-old with a score of 633 out of 720 and an all-India rank around 44,700, contended that a single mark could significantly affect her ranking. She sought a directive for the NTA to correct and republish the NEET-UG 2024 results based on revised marks.

"On June 3, the respondent published the final answer key. It was observed that for question no. 29 of Test Booklet Code R5, both options 2 and 4 were considered correct, contrary to the instructions that stated only one option could be correct.

"Not awarding marks in the case of a wrong question and forcing candidates to mark one, in the case of a question having two correct answers, is antithetical to the instruction that only one answer shall be right. It is submitted that it is extremely arbitrary for the respondent to expect candidates to attempt a wrong question, when there is negative marking and each mark can make a difference of hundreds of ranks, if not thousands," it has added.

The NEET-UG 2024 exam, held on May 5 by the NTA across 4,750 centres, saw participation from around 24 lakh candidates. While results were initially expected on June 14, they were released on June 4 due to early completion of answer sheet evaluations. The NEET-UG exam is crucial for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH, and related courses in government and private institutions nationwide.

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Millennium Post.