The Supreme Court, today, issued a notice in the petition seeking cancellation of the the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test-Under Graduate Exam, 2024 (NEET-UG, 2024) after the alleged paper leak and irregular results.

A writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution was filed seeking a stay on the declaration of results and directions to the National Testing Agency ('NTA') to conduct the re-examinations again given the alleged paper leak. The matter is now listed on July 8, 2024.

The Vacation Bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah ordered, "Issue Notice. In the meantime, a response may be filed."

Justice Amanullah remarked to the Counsel for the NTA, "Sanctity has been affected, we need answers."

Advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara requested to appear in the matter but was refused by the Bench as senior lawyers are not allowed to appear before the vacation bench. "No Senior Counsels during vacations", Justice Nath said.

Mathews further requested the Court to stop the ongoing counselling, but the same was refused.

The Petition was filed by NEET-UG aspirants, from different States who had appeared for the NEET-UG exam held on May 5, 2024. The Petition stated, "Four individuals, including two MBBS students, have been arrested for allegedly running a paper solver gang for NEET exams at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Mehta Vidyalaya in New Delhi...The Economic Offences unit (EOU) of Bihar Police has detained over 270 aspirants in Jharkhand's Hazaribagh district in connection with an alleged paper leak of Bihar Public Service Commission's (BPSC) Teachers Recruitment Exam (TRE)-3. The menace of exam paper leak is growing day by day."

The Petition, through AOR Usha Nandini, further submitted, "Since, 05.05.2024, the aspirant examinees of NEET (UG) exam are facing stress and anxiety no sooner they learnt about the exam paper leak on 05.05.2024, the very day of examination. They fear that they might lose the fair and just chance of getting admission to the best medical colleges due to exam paper leak. Those students who have bought and who have all circulated the leaked exam paper have naturally got an upper hand in terms of score which is crucial for students to secure admission in renowned and good medical colleges. The recipients of leak exam papers are at advantage and all such students will unfairly compete with other students who honestly and sincerely gave their NEET (UG) Exam."

It was also submitted that there is no existing law to curb the menace of paper leaks and the Parliament should immediately facilitate the passing of the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 and to further cause necessary amendments in the existing law/s and/or Code to increase the punishment for such offence of causing paper leak in existing laws.

The Petitioners sought a stay on the declaration of results of NEET-UG, 2024 till further investigation on the paper leak is completed and directions to the NTA to recall the results of the examination.

Further, it was prayed that effective and meaningful steps may be taken to ensure that such malpractices and fraud in conducting examinations and paper leaks should not happen in future.

The Supreme Court in the previous petition had issued a notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) raising the alarming issue of the leakage of the NEET UG 2024 exam paper and the ensuing maladministration in states like Rajasthan, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, etc. The PIL had asserted that these incidents have unfairly disadvantaged deserving candidates, infringing upon their fundamental right to equality and equal opportunities enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. This Petition is now listed on July 8, 2024.

Recently, the Calcutta High Court had also initiated action on a PIL alleging irregularities in the NEET (UG) 2024 examination. The petitioner raised concerns regarding the scoring system and argued that it would be improbable for candidates to achieve scores of 718 or 719 as per the established marking criteria.

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