The National Testing Agency agreed before the Supreme Court on Thursday to examine the alleged error in the Hind translation of a physics question in the NEET-UG 2021.
The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NTA, submitted before a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath that the question will be evaluated again by a panel of three experts. The SG further said that an affidavit will be filed indicating the result reached by the expert panel.
Accordingly, the bench adjourned the hearing to next Tuesday, November 30.
The writ petition was filed by NEET candidates challenging the "discrepancy and patent error" in Question No 2 of Section A (Physics) wherein while translating the same from English to Hindi, the word "amplitude of current" has been omitted.
The Solicitor General informed the bench on Thursday that the issue was examined by three neutral experts, who said that the answer would be same irrespective of the alleged discrepancy.
"We requested 3 neutral experts one knowing only Hindi, one knowing only English & one knowing both. They said that irrespective of this, the answer would be the same. Our personnel says that the answer remains the same irrespective of the both", the Solicitor General submitted.
The SG also cited the precedent in the Sankalp Charitable Trust case, where the Court held that the language of the question in English for NEET would prevail in case of any ambiguity.
Advocate Archana Pathak Dave, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the Hindi version did not have word for "amplitude", and because of this, another answer was correct for the Hindi question. She submitted that out of the 15 lakh students who took the NEET-UG test, 2 lakhs students opted for the Hindi paper. She highlighted that there was negative marking for wrong options.
"Here Mr SG the contention is that both the version are correct since there are 2 separate answers", Justice Chandrachud told the Solicitor.
The bench asked if the issue can be re-examined by a panel of three other experts. The SG agreed to this suggestion.
The order passed by the bench recorded :
"During the course of the hearing, Mr. Tushar Mehta, solicitor general of India, has submitted that in order to allay the apprehensions of students who appeared for the NEET UG 2021 in Hindi, the solutions to both the Hindi and the English version of question number two in the physics paper (Code B2) shall be evaluated again by a committee consisting of three experts. After this process is done, it has been submitted that an affidavit would be filed before this court setting out the result of the evaluation of the solutions"
Details Of The Petition
It was that due to the said omission, the candidates who attempted the question on the basis of the Hindi translation arrived at a different answer as compared to the candidates who attempted the question on the basis of the English question.
Young aspiring doctors who appeared in NEET UG 2021 had contended that pertinently, both the incorrect as well as correct answer had been provided as an option to the said multiple choice questions.
In this regard, relief was sought for issuance of directions to the National Testing Agency ("Respondent No 1") to delete Question 2 of Section A (Physics) in question paper bearing code P2 and its corresponding questions in other sets of the NEET UG 2021 question papers and release fresh results.
Petitioners had also sought for declaring NEET UG 2021 as erroneous, faulty, defective and discriminatory and violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
"The NTA without taking cognizance of the said error, released an answer key only on the basis of the English translation of the question, thereby putting the Hindi-speaking candidates at disadvantageous position vis--vis their English-speaking counterparts. The said disparity was based upon the practice of the NTA to only treat the English version of the questions as final. The question paper carried an instruction to the said effect stipulating that In case of any ambiguity in translation of any question, English version shall be treated as final, however, there was no ambiguity in the impugned question and the same was an error, because the English version and the Hindi version both were different questions which had different answers," the petition stated.
The petitioners had also averred that the Hindi and the English version of the impugned Question were in itself complete standalone questions, which led to the Hindi-speaking candidates to believe that the impugned question was without any ambiguity and could be solved without a reference to its corresponding English version.
It had further been contended that that impugned question carried 4 marks and one wrong answer was in fact loss of 5 marks since NEET has negative marking.
"Hence discrepancy in the said question has put the Hindi Speaking students/states at a disadvantageous position pushing them back by thousands of years and jeopardizing their future," petitioners contended.
The petition has been filed through Advocate on Record Archana Pathak Dave and drafted by Advocate(s) Kumar Prashant and Manish Sharma.
Case Title: Wajida Tabassum and Ors v. National Testing Agency and Anr