Centre sets up panel headed by former ISRO chief to reform exams, review NTA

High-level advisory committee of experts led by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through the National Testing Agency
K Radhakrishnan
K Radhakrishnan

New Delhi | Amid a row over irregularities in competitive exams NEET and NET, the education ministry on Saturday notified a seven-member panel headed by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan to ensure transparent, smooth and fair conduct of examinations through the National Testing Agency (NTA).

"Transparent, tamper-free and zero-error examinations are a commitment. Setting up of the high-level committee of experts is the first of a series of steps to improve the efficiency of the examination process, put an end to all possible malpractices, strengthen data security protocols and overhaul and reform the NTA," Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.

"Students' interests and their bright future will always be our government's top priority," he added.

The ministry's notification comes two days after Pradhan announced the setting up of the committee.

The panel will make recommendations on reforms in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols and the structure and functioning of the NTA. It is supposed to submit its report within two months.

The panel also includes former AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria, Central University of Hyderabad Vice-Chancellor B J Rao, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras K Ramamurthy, People Strong co-founder and Karmayogi Bharat board member Pankaj Bansal, IIT Delhi Dean of Student Affairs Aditya Mittal and Ministry of Education Joint Secretary Govind Jaiswal.

"The panel will analyse the end-to-end examination process and suggest measures to improve efficiency of the system and to forestall any possible breach. It will conduct a thorough review of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and protocols of the NTA, and suggest measures to strengthen these procedures and protocols along with monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance at every level," the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

The committee has also been tasked with examining the existing security protocols related to the setting of the papers and other processes for different examinations and making recommendations to enhance the robustness of the system.

The NTA, which is under fire over the lapses in the conduct of NEET and UGC-NET, is gearing up to conduct on Sunday a retest for the medical entrance exam for 1,563 candidates who were earlier awarded grace marks to make up for the loss of time at six centres.

While medical NEET is under scanner over several irregularities, including alleged leaks, the UGC-NET was cancelled a day after it was conducted as the ministry received inputs that the integrity of the exam was compromised.

Fresh plea in SC seeks CBI, ED enquiry into NEET-UG exam

New Delhi | A fresh plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the CBI and the ED to investigate alleged irregularities in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG held on May 5.

The petition, filed by 10 students who had appeared for the exam, has also sought a direction to Bihar Police to expedite the investigation in the case and file a report before the apex court.

"The petitioners are fully aware of the ramifications of the cancellation of the examination but there is absolutely no other alternative.

"The NEET UG Examination of 2024 had many other irregularities, in particular, the gross negligence on the part of the authorities to make the question papers available to the candidates on time. In some places, the wrong set of question papers was distributed and later recalled," the plea said.

The top court had earlier sought responses from the Centre, the National Testing Agency (NTA) and others on a slew of petitions, including those seeking scrapping of the NEET-UG 2024 exam and a court-monitored probe, amid mounting outrage over alleged irregularities in conducting the all-India medical entrance test.

The apex court had also stayed further proceedings on similar pleas pending before different high courts.

The top court, however, had made it clear that it would not stay the counselling process.

The examination was held on May 5 across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates appeared. The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced on June 4, apparently because the evaluation of the answer sheets was completed earlier.

The allegations of irregularities have led to protests in several cities and sparring between rival political parties.

As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA's history, with six from a centre in Haryana's Faridabad figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to 67 students sharing the top rank.

The NEET-UG examination is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

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