Discrepancies in NEET PG, Doctors Approach Court For Answer Sheets

NEET exam is caught in a controversy yet again as 200 NEET PG aspirants challenge the results at Delhi High Court.

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Cameraperson: Nitin Chopra & Shiv Kumar Maurya

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Around 200 MBBS doctors who had appeared in NEET PG 2019 entrance exam have challenged the result at the Delhi High Court, alleging discrepancies in the final scores.

Petitioners claim that out of 1,43,148 candidates who sat for the exam on 6 January 2019, more than 2,000 MBBS doctors have gotten less than the expected scores.

There is also a mismatch between the number of questions a candidate had attempted in the exam and the number of questions one was evaluated for in the final tally.

Discrepancy in Final Tally on the Score Card

“When we submit our responses in the online NEET exam, we can see the number of questions attempted, at the end of the exam. So we all know how many questions one has attempted. But when the score card was released this year, candidates realised they got less marks. A colleague of mine who had attempted 247 questions was shown as attempting 239 questions (in scorecard).” 
Dr Nitish (name changed), NEET PG Aspirant

This was Nitish’s second attempt at NEET PG. A discrepancy of eight questions means that Nitish will not get admission into a government college. Pursuing MS (Master of Surgery) at a private college means spending Rs 35 lakhs, which is just not affordable for Nitish.

Thanks to the botch-up by the NBE (National Board of Examination), the regulatory body under the Ministry of Health that conducts NEET PG exam every year, Nitish will have to take a drop for another year.

Unlike his friends who are attached with some hospital or the other, Nitish had pinned all hopes on the entrance exam for post-graduation in medicine.

Kerala-based MBBS doctor Dr Ammu Anil clearly remembers that when she had submitted her responses, the number of attempted questions was 220.

Her score card, however, shows the number of correct responses to be 143, while there were 78 incorrect responses, which comes to a total of 221 questions attempted during the exam.

Though the discrepancy is of only one question, Dr Anil’s fear is if she has been wrongly marked negative for an answer she never submitted.

In an exam where lakhs are vying for a limited number of seats, a difference of even one questions means losing out on a seat in a coveted college.

“Though it’s just one question, the rank difference it makes is huge.”
Dr Ammu Anil, NEET PG Aspirant
Screenshot of NEET PG 2019 score card.
Screenshot of NEET PG 2019 score card.
(Photo provided by Dr Ammu Anil)

NEET is Not New to Controversy

This is certainly not the first time the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) got caught in controversy.

Held for the first time in 2013, in a bid to do away with multiple entrance tests for admission into medical colleges, concerns have been raised whether the exam is being conducted in a transparent manner.

In 2017, Hindustan Times had reported how a few candidates had colluded with private colleges to block seats for them until admission was confirmed elsewhere.

Similarly, in 2018, India Today revealed how a few private colleges had pre-booked seats in lieu of higher capitation fees.

MBBS doctors and NEET PG candidates who approached the Delhi High Court in February 2019 told The Quint that in the beginning only 17 had signed themselves as petitioners, the number, later, grew to more than 200 ‘dissatisfied’ medical aspirants.

No Response to RTI: Why Students Want Non-Disclosure Agreement to Go

Among other demands before the high court, petitioners also want that the non-disclosure clauses, as cited in the NEET brochure, should be set aside.

Students claim that it’s because of these clauses that prevent the NBE (National Board of Examination) from sharing either the question paper or respective answer sheets.

Around 30-40 RTI (Right to Information) applications were sent to NBE by the students only to be told, “As per the existing policy of NBE, the question papers and the answer keys in respect of MCQ based exams are not released in public domain.”

Screenshot of response given by the National Board of Examination in response to an RTI application.
Screenshot of response given by the National Board of Examination in response to an RTI application.
(RTI response provided to The Quint by a NEET PG candidate)
“Non-disclosure agreement is violative of our fundamental rights and the Right to Information Act.” 
Dr Rajnish (Name Changed), NEET PG Aspirant

Will Judicial Intervention Help?

The Delhi High Court has directed the NBE as well as the Ministry of Health to respond to the petition and present all the related documents. The next hearing in the case is scheduled on 19 March 2019.

The petitioners are waiting for the next hearing anxiously as the counselling session is about to begin on 15 March following which seats will be allocated to students.

Meanwhile, a few petitioners also told The Quint that they were being intimidated by unknown callers who would reprimand these candidates for approaching the court.

“On the very first day, I got a call, asking, ‘Why are you doing so?’ ‘Don’t go against such a big body’.” 
Dr Sunil (Name changed), NEET PG Candidate

According to the lawyer who is representing the NEET PG candidates at Delhi High Court, some students are also planning to file an FIR.

For a country that is facing acute shortage of doctors, transparency in medical entrance tests can perhaps be the first step that can help in plugging this gap.

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