The Supreme Court, on Monday, refused to stay the Counseling process for NEET-PG 2022 in a plea challenging the decision of National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBE) to not release the answer key and question paper for NEET-PG 2022. The petitioner alleged serious discrepancies in the scores of the candidates who appeared for the test.
Advocate Ms. Avani Bansal appearing on behalf of the petitioner apprised a Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna that as per the office report a similar plea pertaining to non-access to answer keys and question paper for NEET-PG 2021 is pending adjudication. At the suggestion of the Counsel, the Bench tagged the petitions and put it up for final hearing on 25th August.
Ms. Bansal submitted that though there is no official communication yet, as per a news report, the concerned counseling for the NEET-PG 2022 is to start from 1st September, 2022. Considering that the matters will come up for hearing on 25th August, 2022, Ms. Bansal beseeched the Bench to stay the counseling in the interim. Justice Chandrachud refused to grant stay as he was of the opinion that the same would have far reaching consequences.
The petition has been filed by doctors who upon completion of their MBBS course have registered under the State Medical Council. Their grievance is that though there are serious mismatches in their NEET-PG 2022 scores, the NBE is not granting re-evaluation. It categorically mentions that other prestigious examinations in India including NEET-UG provides an option to the candidates to challenge the answer keys. Citing CBSE And Anr. v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay And Ors. the petition argues that answer sheets being information under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005, the petitioners are being deprived of their constitutional and legal right to information. Moreover, NBE is not exempted from providing information under Section 24 of the RTI Act. The petition specifically assails Clauses 9.7 and 10.4 of the NEET-PG Information Bulletin which states that the contents of the exam are proprietary of NBE and no re-evaluation, re-checking or re-totaling is permitted. Conduct of exam, the petition avers, does not constitute a private activity, checking and evaluation of answer sheets by an examiner and the marks assigned by them have nothing to do with issue of privacy and thus NBE would not attract Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.
The petition prays that directions be issued to NBE to release the question paper and answer key for NEET-PG 2022; provide options to the candidates to re-evaluate their papers; to declare Clause 9.7 and 10.4 unconstitutional; permit candidates to challenge answer keys. It seeks the Court's indulgence in constituting a High Power Committee to examine instances of alleged discrepancies in scores to ensure fairness and transparency in the evaluation mechanism. The petition further implores it to frame guidelines for publishing question papers and answer keys after the examination. It also seeks direction to NBE to upload individual OMR answer sheets in login account along with the question paper and the corresponding answer key, immediately after the examination and to provide the answer key and question paper to the candidates for NEET-PG 2022, upon them filing a RTI application.
On 15.01.2022, the NBE invited applications for NEET-PG 2022, which was to take place on 12.03.2022. By way of a notification dated 04.02.2022, it was rescheduled to 21.05.2022. On 16.02.2022, the cut-off date for completion of internship for the purpose of eligibility for NEET-PG 2022 had been extended to 31.07.2022. Eventually, the results were declared on 01.06.2022. The petitioners say they neewere shocked to see the disparity between the actual score and the expected score. When a candidate raised grievances regarding their score NBE clearly stated that they would not provide for revaluation, rechecking or retotaling of responses.
The plea was filed through AOR Charu Mathur.
[Case Title: Pritish Kumar v NBE] W.P.(C) No. 591/2022