Dharmendra Pradhan
Even if senior officials of the NTA are found guilty, they will not be spared, said the minister. | File photo

NEET row | Facing heat from Oppn, Pradhan now says NTA needs improvement

The minister had earlier rejected the charges of a paper leak in the NEET-UG 2024 and had said the govt won’t tolerate malpractice and irregularities in the conduct of the exam

Amid the raging row over the NEET-UG 2024 results, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday (June 16) said that a lot of improvement is required in the National Testing Agency (NTA) while reiterating that no culprit will be spared.

His statement comes as the Opposition parties have hit out against the government, seeking a probe by a Supreme Court-appointed panel.

The minister was speaking to the media in his constituency in Odisha on Sunday. He also admitted that some issues of mismanagement have come to the fore at two places in connection with the NEET-UG exam.

‘Won’t spare guilty’

“The initial information was that some students were given grace marks due to less time...secondly, some irregularities have come to light at two places. I assure the students and parents that the government has taken this seriously. We have received the information, we will take all the issues to a logical conclusion.”

“Even if senior officials of the NTA are found guilty, they will not be spared. A lot of improvement is required in NTA. The government is concerned about this. No culprit will be spared. They will get the harshest punishment,” Pradhan said.

Interestingly, the minister had earlier rejected the charges of a paper leak in the NEET-UG 2024 exam and had said that the government would not tolerate malpractice and irregularities in the conduct of the exam.

Opposition flays govt

On the other hand, the Opposition on Sunday stepped up its attack on the government and demanded that a Supreme Court-appointed committee investigate the NEET-UG 2024 results.

Referring to media reports about the alleged paper leak in Bihar, Congress said that injustice was done to 2.4 million students, their dreams were crushed, for which only the BJP-led NDA government is responsible.

“But unfortunately, running away from responsibility has been an old habit of PM Modi and his ministers. We demand that this matter should be investigated under the supervision of the Supreme Court and the students should get justice at all costs,” the Congress said on its official handle on X.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that there are serious questions on the integrity of the NTA itself and the manner in which NEET is designed and administered. “First the Union Education Minister said nothing was systemically wrong with NEET. Now he accepts that the NTA needs to be improved a lot. He should walk the talk now. The youth of the country are watching him,” he said in a post on X.

Stalin points to Gujarat

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin also raked up the issue on social media platform X, pointing out that even the Gujarat police have registered a case over allegations of invigilators tampering with OMR sheets in exchange for monetary benefits, involving cheques worth several crore rupees and eight blank cheques.

“This conspiracy, implicating a school principal, a physics teacher, and several NEET coaching centres, underscores the urgent need for systemic change. From martyr Anitha to the countless students who have tragically taken their own lives, we have witnessed enough. NEET, an examination masquerading as a measure of merit, has repeatedly revealed itself as a pervasive scam affecting all levels of society. The Union government must stop defending this anti-student, anti-social justice, and anti-poor NEET system,” he said in a post on X.

Rajya Sabha MP and former Union education minister Kapil Sibal also demanded a probe by the Supreme Court-appointed officials into allegations of irregularities in NEET-UG and said that all political parties should raise the matter strongly in the upcoming session of Parliament.

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