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news details
NEET Row | NTA DG shunted out; Centre orders CBI probe, sets up high-level panel for exam reforms
6/23/2024 9:42:42 PM
Agencies
NEW DELHI, June 23: Facing flak over alleged discrepancies in competitive exams, the Centre on Saturday shunted out National Testing Agency (NTA) Director General Subodh Singh and handed over the probe into irregularities in medical entrance exam NEET-UG to the CBI. The Education Ministry also set up a seven-member panel headed by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan to review the agency's functioning and recommend exam reforms.
It postponed the NEET-PG entrance, the fourth entrance exam to be impacted in recent days.
"We stand for transparent, tamper-free and zero error examination. A panel has been formed on exam reforms, strict action has been taken against officials and the case has been handed over to CBI," Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
"Students' interest will be safeguarded at any cost," he said after a flurry of decisions amid litigation and protests in different parts of the country on the issue of alleged irregularities in entrance exams.
The opposition hit out at the government, with the Congress alleging that the education system has been "ruined" under the Modi government.
According to officials, NTA DG Subodh Kumar Singh has been put on "compulsory wait" in the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) till further orders.
India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola has been assigned additional charge of the NTA till the appointment of a regular incumbent.
"Certain cases of alleged irregularities, cheating, impersonation and malpractices have been reported in NEET-UG which was conducted on May 5.
"For transparency on the conduct of the examination process, it was decided after a review that the matter be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for comprehensive investigation," the Ministry of Education said announcing the late-night decision.
The Union Health Ministry also announced the postponement of NEET-PG entrance, a night before the entrance exam, as a "precautionary measure" in the wake of recent allegations on the integrity of certain competitive exams.
The move comes a day after the June edition of the Joint Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and UGC-NET was postponed. The Joint CSIR-UGC-NET is a test conducted to determine eligibility for junior research fellowship and assistant professor and admission to PhD in science courses.
Pradhan, however, denied any leak of CSIR-NET paper and said the exam was postponed due to logistical reasons.
He also asserted that anybody involved or responsible for any irregularity in NEET-UG will not be spared.
The UGC-NET was cancelled on Wednesday, a day after it was conducted following inputs that the integrity of the exam was compromised. The matter is being probed by the CBI.
Bihar Police on Friday night detained six more people from Jharkhand's Deoghar district in connection with the alleged leak of NEET paper in the state, an official said. Its Economic Offences Unit last month arrested 13 people, including prime suspect Sikandar Yadavendu, in connection with the alleged paper leak.
The EOU is also exploring the "possibility of conducting narco analysis and brain mapping tests" of the accused, sources said.
They also indicated that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) might investigate the money laundering aspect.
A fresh plea was filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the CBI and the ED to investigate the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG.
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 top court had earlier sought responses from the Centre, the NTA and others on a slew of petitions, including those seeking scrapping of the NEET-UG 2024 exam and a court-monitored probe. The apex court had also stayed further proceedings on similar pleas pending before different high courts.
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