NEET 2020 candidates accuse NTA of furnishing tampered OMR sheets
New Delhi: The NEET 2020 candidates who alleged discrepancies in NEET 2020 Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets in their petition filed with the Delhi High Court, have now accused the National Testing Agency (NTA) of providing them with tampered OMR sheets.
Edexlive reports that some of the photographs of the sheets also show parts of the OMR sheets torn and pasted with a cello-tape. While some of the students alleged that the OMR sheets handed over to them by the authorities were different from the ones that were uploaded on the NTA's website.
The NTA had shown the OMR sheets to these candidates after the Supreme Court had asked them to consider giving it if a representation was made.
The Bench of honourable justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi was hearing a petition filed by NEET candidates under Article 32 contending that the OMR sheets uploaded by the NTA do not tally with the actual answers given by them. They had also challenged an NTA circular that mandated an amount of Rs 1,000 to be charged per question for reassessment. This means that for 180 questions in the MBBS entrance test, it would require them to pay Rs 1.8 lakh for a reassessment.
In their petition, the candidates alleged that there was a huge apprehension of tampering with the answer sheets. Various discrepancies were noticed including tampering of roll number, booklet number, signatures, the difference in scores reflected from the expected score, blank OMR sheets, the difference in scores initially uploaded and the revised scores, the difference in the number of questions shown to be attempted as opposed to those actually attempted etc.
They submitted that umpteen efforts were made to reach the NTA to no response. One petitioner, however, received a response on October 11 wherein it was indicated that the OMR sheet appeared fabricated.
It was contended that the process to challenge the responses in the OMR sheet, as per the October 5 notice, is unjust and manifestly arbitrary. The payment of Rs 1,000 per question accumulates to a huge sum, which is beyond the financial capacity of the petitioners and similarly placed students. For instance, the petitioners paid substantial amounts, including Rs. 91,000 by one petitioner, to challenge the OMR sheet.
The petitioner candidates further argued that any kind of tampering, manipulation or fabrication with the OMR sheets will dilute the transparency in the evaluation mechanism itself. To address the complaints, NTA should verify the uploaded OMR sheets with the carbon copy of the original OMR sheets retained by it after the exam's conduct.
Further alleging discrepancies in NEET results, the petitioners submitted that they have had a great academic record and the present inconsistencies in the OMR sheets have traumatized them.
They further presented the reported instances of candidates dying by suicides after witnessing glaring discrepancies in their OMR sheets. In October, a girl was reported to have died by suicide after received 6 marks out of a possible 720 marks. However, when a reevaluation of her OMR sheet was conducted, it was seen that she had in fact scored 590.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner candidates argued that NTA's actions have entailed in a sheer violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15 and 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. It has shaken the confidence of the students. The October 5 NTA notice (regarding the payment of Rs 1,000 per question challenged in the OMR sheet and answer key) is irrational and manifestly arbitrary and undoubtedly deprives the valuable right to know of thousands of students who seek to challenge the OMR sheet. Petitioners are placed at a heightened disadvantage as they do not have access to any direct documentary evidence in respect of events that transpired during the exam. The evidence is solely with the Respondents. Therefore, the NTA should be made accountable to produce a carbon copy of the original OMR sheet and verify the material.
This petition filed by the candidates was disposed off by the apex court noting that the representations have been preferred by a few of the petitioners for supply of the original OMR sheets for verification. The Supreme Court had noted that NTA would consider the representations of the petitioners for furnishing the original OMR sheets.
Thereafter, 14 NEET aspirants had moved to the Delhi HC. Considering their plea, a single-judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath allowed the aspirants to physically inspect their OMR sheets at the office of the National Testing Agency (NTA). The HC also allowed the aspirants to take photographs of the original OMR sheets. The order recorded that in some matters, NTA itself had permitted physical inspection of the OMR Sheets.
Recently, the petitioners' lawyer said that the parents had gone to the NTA office in Delhi on Saturday to examine the sheets. After viewing the OMR sheets, the petitioners have now alleged that the sheets provided by the National Testing Agency to them, have been tampered with. Some of the students also alleged that the OMR sheets handed over to them by the authorities were different from the ones that were uploaded on the agency's website.
The photographs of some of the sheets were allegedly torn and pasted with a cellotape. "Another petitioner was shocked to find that the signatures hadn't matched in the OMR sheets that they were provided," the counsel informed Edexlive, adding that all petitioners could find discrepancies in the OMR sheets provided.