NEET-UG: SC still refuses to stay counselling; petitioners’ parents dismayed, yet hopeful

In response to the request of one of the petitioners’ counsel to order the postponement of the NEET UG counselling, Justice Bhatti said that the counselling was “not open-and-shut”
NEET UG 2024: SC still refuses to stay Counselling; petitioners’ parents react
Pending petitions about NEET UG 2024 are listed for July 8EdexLive & Canva

As the Supreme Court of India continues to maintain its stance of refusing to stay the counselling round of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for Undergraduate (NEET-UG) admissions, 2024, parents of petitioners, who appeared for the exam express both a sense of despair, as well as a glimmer of hope that justice would prevail. 

Today, June 21, a Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices Vikram Nath and SVN Bhatti heard three fresh petitions that called for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged paper leak in the exam, and the cancellation of the exam and the counselling. 

Asking the National Testing Agency (NTA) to respond to these petitions, the bench listed them for July 8, to be heard with other pending petitions. 

In response to the request of one of the petitioners’ counsel to order the postponement of the NEET UG counselling on June 6, as the case is to be heard on June 8, Justice Bhatti said that the counselling was “not open-and-shut”, and that it was a long process, reports LiveLaw.

In the hearing yesterday, June 20, the Supreme Court said that it understood that the admission process would be subject to the final result of the petitions. 

“Shattered by the state of affairs,” says petitioner’s patient

Speaking to EdexLive, Dr Pooja Bhasin, whose daughter was one of the petitioners who went to court so far, said that the course of events throughout NEET UG, as well as the Supreme Court’s stance on the counselling was “devastating” for the whole family. 

“We are just shattered. My daughter worked extremely hard for the examination and scored well, like we all expected. But, her rank did not reflect her hard work or performance in the exam,” she lamented. 

With over 670 marks, Dr Bhasin’s daughter could ideally get admission to any top medical college in the country. However, this seems less likely in the current situation. 

“My daughter could still get admitted to any college. But that is not our aim – my daughter should get admitted to a good medical college like she deserves to,” says Dr Bhasin. 

It is only because of the hard work of her daughter, that Dr Bhasin is supporting her legal actions and fighting beside her, like countless other aspirants and their parents who moved to the Supreme Court for relief. 

“If my daughter was lackadaisical about her education, I would have told her to take it easy and get into any college that she can. But my daughter studied hard for three years and five months, and we don’t want her efforts to go to waste,” she said.

She added that her entire family was mindful of her daughter’s preparation, and supported her to the best of their abilities. “My daughter used to study late in the night, and occasionally take 30-minute naps between study sessions. I often stayed up with her, and she used to ask me to wake her up every time she took a nap,” she explained. 

She further elaborated that as a working professional, it was difficult for her to stay up late, but she chose to do it to support her daughter. 

“If my daughter could not get a seat in a good medical college despite working hard, what was the point of all this hard work? We would have tried for a seat in a private college,” she says. 

However, despite this, Dr Bhasin remains hopeful that the Supreme Court would act in favour of the students. “We are all waiting for July 8, and pray that the Supreme Court ensures that our children get justice,” she says. 

“NTA’s timing suspicious”

Echoing this optimism, Dr Raj Shekhar Yadav, another petitioner’s parent, says that the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the counselling has a silver lining to it. 

“The counselling does not begin and end on July 6. As the Supreme Court stated, it is a long process. I feel that the Supreme Court will come up with a verdict or new directions for the exam before the counselling process concludes,” Dr Yadav says. 

He further reminds that the Supreme Court announced to deal with even “0.001 per cent negligence on anyone’s part.”

Moreover, he also expresses suspicion about the NTA’s conduct throughout the exam, especially in setting the schedule. 

“Last year, the counselling for NEET UG started on July 20. However, it is only this year that the NTA is surprisingly trying to wrap things up quickly after the exam has been conducted,” he claims. 

He further questions the NTA’s decision to announce the results of NEET UG 10 days ahead of schedule, conveniently when the 2024 Lok Sabha Election votes were being counted.  

To recall, candidates of NEET UG complained of malpractices during the examination on May 5. After the examination, many students alleged that there had been a leak in the question paper, which prompted the Bihar Police to register an FIR, further resulting in the arrest of 13 persons. 

When the results were announced, it was found that there were severe discrepancies between the marks and ranks, with 67 students scoring 720 out of 720 marks – six of whom are from the same centre. 

Such discrepancies led to widespread protests from doctors, NEET UG aspirants, student groups and political parties alike, who all called for the NTA to be held accountable, or even scrapped.

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