The Union of India in its affidavit states that experts from IIT Madras in their analysis say that there is neither any indication of mass malpractice nor a localized set of candidates being benefitted leading to abnormal scores in the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test-Under Graduate Exam, 2024 (NEET-UG, 2024).

The additional affidavit was filed in compliance with the directions issued on July 8, 2024, by the Supreme Court to answer several questions in the matters related to the NEET-UG, 2024 alleged paper leak and malpractices.

As regards the use of data analytics either within the cyber forensic unit or any other expert agencies within the government or which may be employed by the government to identify suspect or suspicious cases, the Union of India says, "In this regard it is respectfully submitted that pursuant to the directions issued by this Hon'ble court vide its order dated 08.07.2024, the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, made a request to the Director, IIT Madras to undertake comprehensive data analytics of the Result of the entire set of candidates, who appeared in NEET(UG) 2024 Examination. IIT Madras was also requested to ascertain through data analytics, fi there are any suspected cases who could have indulged in wrongdoing and other red flags, which indicate any aberration in the spread of top performers/candidates. A set of parameters, which shall form the basis of the analytics, were also requested to be devised."

Centre submits that an exhaustive and elaborate technical evaluation of the data pertaining to the NEET(UG) 2024 Examination was carried out by IIT, Madras, using the parameters like marks distribution, city-wise and centre-wise rank distribution and candidates spread over marks range, and the following findings have been given by the experts of the IIT Madras:

1. The marks distribution follows the bell-shaped curve that is witnessed in any large-scale examination indicating no abnormality.

2. City-wise and center-wise analysis was done for 2 years (2023 and 2024) to find out if there are any abnormal indications. The Analysis is carried out for the Top 1.4 lakh ranks given that the total number of seats across the country is around 1.1 lakhs.

3.This Analysis is granular enough to indicate any abnormality, had a large number of students get into high ranks (top 5%), due to malpractice or if students from a particular exam centre or city benefitted.

4. The analysis shows that there is neither any indication of mass malpractice nor a localized set of candidates being benefitted leading to abnormal scores.

5. There is an overall increase in the marks obtained by students, specifically in the range of 550 to 720. This increase is seen across the cities and centres. This is attributed to a 25% reduction in syllabus. In addition, candidates obtaining such high marks are spread across multiple cities and multiple centres, indicating a very less likelihood of malpractice.

The Centre also submits that if it is found that any candidate has been the beneficiary of any malpractice, such candidature would be cancelled at any stage during the counselling process or even afterwards.

“However, seats allocation will depend on the timing of such cancellation. For first and second round, candidates are allowed to change seats as per options exercised by them. So, if cancellation is done before beginning of third round, it wil not have any impact on overall counselling process and allocation of seats. Third round of counselling process is expected to start in second week of September…If candidature is cancelled after third round, vacant seats can still be offered in subsequent round. However, candidates who have already been allocated seats in earlier rounds will not be able to participate in subsequent round”, the Affidavit states.

In their previous affidavit, the Union of India had said that in the absence of any proof of a large-scale breach of confidentiality in the NEET-UG, 2024, it would be irrational to scrap the examination. The Affidavit further stated that the Ministry of Education has constituted a High-level Committee of Experts to suggest effective measures for conducting transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations by the NTA. The Committee is headed by the former Chairman, of ISRO and Chairman, of BoG, IIT Kanpur Dr. K Radhakrishnan.

On July 8, 2024, the Supreme Court had remarked that if the question paper was leaked in the NEET-UG, 2024 on social media or telegram channels, then it would be widespread, the integrity of the exam would be affected and such beneficiaries of the leak will have to be identified ruthlessly. The Court had said that a retest may be required if the leak was widespread. The Court had also directed the National Testing Agency( 'NTA') to answer various questions put forth in the hearing of the petitions alleging the malpractices and paper leaks in theNEET-UG, 2024.

The NTA had also filed a reply in the matter, stating that the candidates scoring full marks in the NEET-UG, 2024 was due to a reduction in the syllabus which was done to alleviate pressure. It also stated that the candidates involved in the alleged paper leak were very minuscule, therefore, cancelling the examination would be counterproductive.

Several petitions were filed and notice was issued against the NEET-UG, 2024 exam, including Alakh Pandey alias Physics Wallah, alleging several malpractices and paper leaks and seeking directions for cancellation of exams. During vacation, the notice was issued in several petitions and all the matters were tagged together seeking a reply from the National Testing Agency ('NTA').

The Court will also hear the petitions seeking CBI and ED probe in the matter.

The Court, on June 20, 2024, had also stayed the proceedings in various petitions filed across Rajasthan, Calcutta, and Bombay High Courts.

The Court, on June 13, 2024, had allowed the recommendations by the UOI and NTA, to conduct a re-examination for the 1563 candidates who were given compensatory marks in the NEET-UG, 2024. The re-examination is likely to be held on June 25, 2024. A petition was filed by Jaripiti Kartheek under Article 32 of the Constitution raising a grievance regarding the grant of compensatory marks to 1563 candidates using a normalization formula where, at the examination centres, the candidates were given less than three hours twenty minutes to complete their exam.

On June 14, 2024, The Court had also issued notice in the petition filed by the NTA seeking a transfer of pending petitions before various High Courts alleging the malpractices in NEET-UG. The Court tagged the matter and listed it on July 8, 2024. Other transfer petitions filed by NTA were withdrawn as they were related to the grant of compensatory marks, which has already been decided by the Court on June 13, 2024.

Cause Title: Shivangi Mishra and Ors. v. National Testing Agency and Ors. (W.P.(C) No. 362/2024) and connected matters.