On NET Exam Row, Corruption Case Likely, Officials To Be Probed: Sources

2024 UGC-NET was conducted on Tuesday and results were expected soon, but the Education Ministry said the exam had been scrapped and results voided.

On NET Exam Row, Corruption Case Likely, Officials To Be Probed: Sources

The NEET medical entrance tests and NET exams for professorial posts are conducted by the NTA (File).

New Delhi:

Hours after the Education Ministry scrapped the 2024 UGC-NET examination - based on input from a federal cybercrime unit run by the Home Ministry that said it may have been compromised - sources told NDTV early inquiries suggest a large corruption racket. Given such concerns, sources said officials charged with the exam's conduct, including those who set question papers, will be probed.

The officials likely to be investigated range from academics who create the question papers and those who evaluate answers to officials responsible for editing, or checking, prepared question papers. Sources said two to three sets of each question paper are prepared.

The role of officials who print each question paper will be examined, as will that of those who take the printed documents to examination centres across the country. The role of the latter will be scrutinised, as this person has complete access to all question papers.

Meanwhile, after the NET was cancelled, student protests on university campuses across the country, claiming they had flagged paper leaks last week, days before the exam, but no action was taken.

Students at Lucknow University said at least one paper had been leaked and was available for as little as Rs 5,000. This, they said, had been circulated via WhatsApp and Telegram groups from June 16.

READ | NET Aspirants Allege Paper Leak, Day After Exam Got Scrapped

UGC-NET refers to the National Eligibility Test - a qualifying exam for appointments to professorial posts in colleges and universities, as well as for research posts and fellowships.

It is conducted by the NTA, or National Testing Agency, a federal agency that organises competitive exams for various courses, including the NEET, or National Eligibility and Entrance Test, which sorts students to colleges offering undergraduate medical degrees.

The 2024 UGC-NET was conducted on Tuesday but the Education Ministry this afternoon said the exam had been scrapped and results voided.

READ | "Took Proactive Action": Education Ministry, Under Fire For Scrapping NET

Over 11 lakh students had registered for the exam.

"The matter has been given to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)... a fresh exam will be conducted soon," Govind Jaiswal, the Joint Secretary, said.

This comes as the NTA, and the government, take flak over allegations of leaked question papers and preferential marking for the NEET exams. Nearly 24 lakh students took that exam - on May 5 - and there have been widespread complaints by candidates across India.

READ | "Got NEET Paper Day Before Exam": Arrested Student Tells Bihar Cops

The NEET row also reached the Supreme Court; on Tuesday the court came down heavily on the NTA and demanded accountability in case of even "0.001 per cent negligence". 

Concern over the NEET exam was triggered after rumours of leaked question papers and the fact that 1,563 students received grace marks allowing them to score a perfect 720.

The court was told the grace marks were due to loss of time for some students.

Students and petitioners have demanded a re-test but, for now, the NTA has only agreed to roll-back marks of the 1,563 who got extra marks and has offered them a second chance.

Four men arrested in Bihar confessed to question papers being leaked.

The UGC-NET and NEET rows have also spawned entirely predictable political spats, with the Congress-led INDIA bloc set to attack the ruling BJP ahead of the first Parliament session.

READ | In NEET Row In Bihar, BJP, RJD Trade Claims Of 'Link' To Key Accused

In Bihar, for example, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sinha has accused opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, whose Rashtriya Janata Dal is part of the INDIA bloc, of links between his aide and one of the key accused in this case.

READ | "Emergency": NET Scrapped Amid NEET Row, Opposition Gets Ammo

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Mallikarjun Kharge, and Samajwadi Party boss Akhilesh Yadav, the Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi, and the Trinamool's Saket Gokhale have all hit out at the BJP on this topic.

NDTV is now available on WhatsApp channels. Click on the link to get all the latest updates from NDTV on your chat.