SC asks NTA to ensure that even ‘0.001% negligence’ is investigated, while states of Bihar & Gujarat remain the epicentre of the NEET UG 2024 scandal

Supreme Court bench also urged the NTA to act proactively, admit if there is any mistake to re-instil the confidence of the public in the NEET examinations; AAP and Congress continue with protests
Image: PTI

On June 18, Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India asked the Union Government and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to look into the allegations of negligence being raised against the conduction of NEET-UG 2024 exams, and ensure that even ‘0.001% negligence’ is investigated. While hearing the writ petition concerning the alleged paper leak, the vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and SV Bhatti highlighted the important of ensuring serious fair investigation and accountability in view of the immense labour that the candidates have put in for preparing the nationwide examination.

“Even if there is 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone, it should be thoroughly dealt with. All these matters ought not to be treated as adversarial litigation,” the Bench said, as per Livelaw.

The present petition has been tagged with other similar petitions that had been filed in the Supreme Court, where allegations of malpractice and paper leaks had been made.  It is essential to note that.

Background of the controversy

On June 4, 2024, the NTA released the NEET 2024 results, catching students and parents off guard due to the results being announced ten days ahead of the anticipated date. This early release coincided with the national focus on the general election results, which added to the public’s astonishment. The declaration that 67 candidates had secured a perfect score of 720/720 raised immediate concerns, as achieving such scores is exceptionally difficult given NEET’s negative marking system.

Further suspicions were fuelled by reports that many of the top scorers had consecutive roll numbers, implying they might have taken the exam at the same centre. This raised allegations of collusion and possible exam centre malpractice. The situation was further complicated by reports of candidates scoring 718/720 and 719/720—scores that are impossible under NEET’s marking scheme, sparking confusion and suspicion among stakeholders.

Legal headway made till now 

On the last day of hearing, June 13, the said matter had been brought before the Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court of India.

The Court had reviewed the pleas demanding the cancellation of NEET-UG 2024 results and objections to the awarding of grace marks. One petition was filed by Physics Wallah CEO Alakh Pandey, who argued that the NTA’s decision to award grace marks was arbitrary, supported by representations from about 20,000 students. Another petition by SIO members, Abdullah Mohammed Faiz and Dr. Shaik Roshan Mohiddin sought a recall of the NEET-UG 2024 results over alleged paper leaks and malpractices, with the court issuing a notice on this matter. It is essential to note that after allegations were raised against the grant of grace marks, the NTA and the Union Education Ministry had formed a four-member committee to review the results of the candidates awarded grace marks to compensate for the loss of time.

On the issue of grace marks: Advocate Kanu Agarwal, representing the Union Government, had stated that the panel reviewing the NEET-UG issue was of the view that the award of compensatory marks to 1563 students on the grounds of loss of time resulted in a “skewed situation” because the grace marks had to be limited only to the un-attempted questions. After examining all aspects, the committee concluded that it would be appropriate to recommend the cancellation of the scorecards of the 1563 students.

The court had scrutinised the NTA recommendations and found inconsistencies regarding the re-test clauses. Justice Mehta had emphasized the need to re-draft the clauses, noting, “You can’t declare the result of all 1563 candidates cancelled.”

The Supreme Court directed that only candidates genuinely affected by the reduced exam time should be eligible for the re-test, scheduled for June 23, 2024, with results to be declared by June 30 to avoid disrupting the counselling process starting on July 6. The Supreme Court’s order had stated that the petitioners raised concerns about the normalisation formula and the award of grace marks to 1563 candidates. Those who opt out of the re-exam will have their actual scores considered without compensatory marks. The decision to cancel the grace marks awarded to 1563 students was communicated by the Centre to the Supreme Court, with these students informed of their actual scores.

On halting the counselling process: The Supreme Court had clarified that the ongoing counselling process, which is scheduled to take place on July 6, would not be halted. Justice Nath had stated, “Counselling will go on, and we will not stop it. If the exam goes, then everything goes in totality, so nothing to fear.”

The order of the Supreme Court can be read here:


Arguments and observations made in the ongoing hearing

During the hearing on January 18, the vacation bench had clarified to Advocate Kanu Agarwal and Vardhaman Kaushik, representing the Union Government and the NTA respectively that even 0.001% negligence on the part of anyone needs to be thoroughly investigated. Justice Bhatti also highlighted that an investigation is important not only to ensure that the labour put in by students preparing for the exams but also because any candidate who becomes a doctor after playing fraud in the exam is more dangerous to the society.

“Imagine a situation where a person who has played fraud on the system, has become a doctor, he is more deleterious towards society….we all know the labour the children undergo especially for preparing for these exams.” Justice Bhatti remarked, as per LiveLaw.

Justice Bhatti also expressed that the NTA should act proactively and must admit if there is any mistake. This will re-instil the confidence of the public in the NEET examinations.

Your stance (the NTA and Union) ought not to change the moment you enter the court, representing the Agency which is responsible for conducting the examination. You must stand firm- if there is a mistake, yes there is a mistake, this is the action we will take- at least that inspires confidence in your performance….if someone keeps just a table in front of him, find out the performance of most of the candidates, one can easily understand where it has gone wrong, how many cell phones were used…clearly we react, but in vacation we react slowly,” the Bench stated.

The case will now be heard on July 8 with the other matters. The Union Government as well as the NTA has been required to submit their response within two weeks.

The order of the Supreme Court can be read here:

Police investigations in Bihar, Gujarat

The National Eligibility Entrance Test of 2024, the largest medical admission test in India, has been in the headlines since the past few weeks. The numerous arrests, inquiries, judicial interventions, scams, protests and calls for justice in the wake of the purported paper leak have raised many fingers at the sanctity of this test as well as the negligence of the NTA. As more and more scandals related to NEET unfold, shocking and significant details have emerged from the state of Bihar and Gujarat.


It was from the state of Bihar that the reports of a paper leak had started surfacing. As provided by multiple media report, five minutes into the exam, the Patna police got a tip-off about a car belonging to an organised gang. The car had earlier taken 35 examinees to a playschool in Patna and leaked the paper.

As per the report of The Free Press Journal, an FIR had been registered at the Shastrinagar police station and police had recovered a scanned copy of the leaked paper sent to a young man in Danapur. The investigation by Patna police had also resulted in multiple arrests and unravelling of malpractices. The police also arrested four fake candidates in Purnia and one in Hajipur who had attempted to sit the exam on behalf of others.

As per reports, a total of 13 people belonging to Bihar have been arrested in connection with the alleged NEET-UG 2024 paper leak case. The Bihar Police have established the involvement of 35 students, 13 of whom have already come under their investigation while investigators are yet to identify the remaining 22.

According to sources, it is suspected that nine aspirants, along with four other examinees from Bihar, received the exam’s question paper and answers in a ‘safe house’ near Patna a day before it was conducted on May 5. Notably, they have already been arrested by the Economic Offences Unit (EOU).

During interrogation, the candidates had disclosed that their parents had paid more than Rs 30 lakh for every candidate to those who were facilitated question papers ahead of the exam. The EOU of Bihar Police had also recovered six post-dated cheques which were suspected to have been issued in favour of the mafia.


On June 15, Gujarat Police arrested five persons, including the head of a coaching centre, in connection with alleged cheating in the medical examination in a centre in Godhra. As per the police complaint lodged in Godhra, around a dozen students, their parents and a Vadodara-based coaching centre run by a group of teachers were found to be involved in the alleged scam. The five arrested included the principal and teacher of a school in Godhra town in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district. The names of those arrested are:

  1. Parshuram Roy, owner of the Roy Overseas Coaching Institute in Vadodara,
  2. Vibhor Anand, an education consultant who got students admitted to Roy’s Institute,
  3. Purshottam Sharma, the principal of Jai Jalaram School which was a NEET exam centre,
  4. Tushar Bhatt, the deputy superintendent at the NEET centre who was a physics teacher at the school and
  5. Arif Vora who worked with Bhatt

These five have been accused of trying to help 27 candidates clear the NEET-UG for a sum of ₹ 10 lakh each. As per the report of The Free Press Journal, some students had even paid over Rs 2 crore to the accused for getting their children admitted overseas.

As per Indian express, out of 27 students who had either paid in advance or agreed to pay money to Mr Roy and others, only three were able to clear the exam. Notably, the police informed the court that out of the 27 students who chose Godhra as their exam centre, 16 students hailed from Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

It is essential to note that the FIR against this “racket” had been filed on May 9, after the district collector received a tip-off that some persons were involved in malpractice at the Godhra School designated as a centre for NEET-UG, held on May 5. As per the details that have emerged, students had been asked to opt for the Godhra centre so that the accused could then help the candidates by filling the answers to the questions left blank. As per The Print, a nexus between a coaching institute and staff at the exam centre where the NEET was conducted is emerging. The police are now, with the help of the NTA, trying to identify all the students who benefited from this organised cheating racket.

Uproar and protest by opposition over NEET continue

On June 19, the Indian National Congress (INC) party announced a nationwide protest on June 21, 2024 against the alleged NEET Scam. The said decision came after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had bemoaned the silence of PM Modi over the scam and the allegations being raised against the conduct of the NTA.

On June 18, Gandhi had taken to X (formerly Twitter) and provided “As always, Narendra Modi is maintaining silence on the issue of playing with the future of more than 24 lakh students in the NEET exam. The arrests in Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana clearly indicate that there is systematic organised corruption in the examination and these BJP ruled states have become the epicentre of paper leaks. In our judicial document, we had guaranteed to secure the future of the youth by making a strict law against paper leaks.”

Reacting to the arrests made in Bihar, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had also claimed that the Modi government has started “covering up the NEET scam” through Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the NTA.

“If the paper was not leaked in NEET then — why were 13 accused arrested in Bihar due to paper leak? Did the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Patna police not expose the payment of Rs 30 lakh-Rs 50 lakh to the education mafia and organised gangs involved in the racket in exchange for papers?” he said in a post on X.

Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar also attacked the union government and stated “The Karnataka government’s stand is that we are opposing it. It’s a huge scandal. I would like to congratulate Dharmendra Pradhan on his statement…It’s unfair to have a re-exam for a few students. It must be done for everyone.”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders have been continuously protesting against the Union government and demanding an investigation on the NEET UG. The political party has been questioning the ruling party on alleged NEET paper leak since the beginning, and have amped up their protest since the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court.

At a protest held at Jantar Matar, AAP leaders had stated that “NTA has betrayed the central government and the children of the country. Children’s dreams and future have been betrayed. Cases of paper leak also came to light in Bihar and Gujarat, but the central government remained silent. They kept trying to hide this fraud. The Central Government should conduct an independent investigation in this matter and it should be under the supervision of the Supreme Court. This is a question of the future of millions of children of 10th, 11th and 12th and AAP will strongly raise the voice of these children.”



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