NEET 2021: Supreme Court sets aside Bombay HC re-test order for 2 candidates
New Delhi: Setting aside the Bombay High Court order directing the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct a fresh examination for two NEET aspirants, the Supreme Court has recently clarified that even though it sympathized with the students, it was difficult to conduct a re-test for two students.
Allowing the appeal filed by NTA, the top court noted in the order that the invigilator had admitted the mistake. The bench also agreed with the submission made by the counsel for the students that the students had lost precious time due to the mix-up.
Mentioning that it could understand the mental stress of young students for appearing in the exam in such a situation, the Supreme Court was quoted noting by Live Law, "...though we sympathise with their cause, we find it difficult to direct re-exam for them alone. Therefore, we set aside the direction given by the High Court."
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that in the unprecedented order dated October 20, the Bombay HC had directed the NTA to conduct a fresh examination for them after it took note of the submission that those two aspirants had been handed question papers and answer sheets with incorrect serial numbers during the NEET examination 2021.
The court had also directed NTA to declare the results of those candidates within two weeks along with the main results of the test that was held on September 12 and this had halted the timeline regarding the publication of NEET results.
The high court had taken note of the fact that the test booklet and OMR sheet of two medical aspirants got mixed up at the examination centre before the start of the test and ordered that they be given fresh opportunity to appear.
Besides ordering re-examination and staying the declaration of the results, also directed that the NTA "shall give 48 hrs clear notice to the Petitioners about the date of examination and the centre allotted to the Petitioners".
As a result of the order of the Bombay HC order, the declaration of results was halted by NTA and soon the HC order was challenged before the top court bench as NTA pointed out the urgency of publishing the results.
Recently, the top court had stayed the HC order and permitted NTA to publish the results. However, it had also clarified that the issue of the two students would be considered after the opening of the courts.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, the counsel appearing for NTA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, submitted before the court that the mix up had happened for 6 students, whereas the issue had been raised only two students.
At this outset, the SG was quoted saying by the daily, "Without consulting my client, I am submitting, principally we can have no objection in taking the re-exam, but the difficulty we see is that there is another petition before High Court after this order...for some reason, some mistake...there are 16 lakh candidates taking the exam every year, and we are working through invigilators across the country, and there could be some mistakes somewhere, but if that becomes a cause for re-examination, it will be never-ending."
On the other hand, Advocate Sudhanshu Choudhuri appearing on the behalf of two students, submitted that the students were repeaters from humble background. Further referring to the apology submitted by the invigilator, he pointed out, ".the invigilators tender apology for mistake in distributing booklets to 6 students, test booklets fell down and got mixed with wrong OMR sheets, "we were doing duty for the first time, we assure this happened in hurry and not a deliberate mistake"-they said." He urged before the court that having excellent academic record, the students cannot be made to suffer.
Taking note of the fact that the marks of those two students were calculated on the basis of the suggestion given by NTA to the HC, where the agency had submitted that the scores would be computed without insisting on the test booklet code and OMR sheet being different.
At this outset, the top court noted,
"There is no dispute that, there was a mix-up in the distribution of the answer sheets and the text booklets where the code is different. Realizing that wrong answer given to a question would attract negative marks and relying up on the instruction given to candidates, respondents 1 and 2 pointed out to the invigilator that the correct answer sheet with the proper code has to be given to them."
"We have perused the marks given to respondents 1 and 2 from the material furnished by the SG. They have attempted most of the questions, no negative marks have been given to them. However, we find substance in submission of Mr. Choudhari that with loss of precious time the two students could not answer all the questions and we also appreciate the state of mind of the 2 students while taking the exam", further noted the bench.
However, clarifying that it cannot allow the re-test, the bench noted,
"Though we sympathize with the cause of the two students. we find it difficult to order the reexamination of the two students. Thus we set aside the direction of the HC to conduct fresh exam for the two students."
Following this, the counsel appearing for the students requested the court to give any alternative relief for computing their score after taking into account the average of their attempted questions so that the students can get admitted in some college this year.
Turning down this request, the bench told the students' counsel, "We are sorry but we cannot do anything."