Expressing “shock” over a medical aspirant’s attempt to manipulate the OMR sheet filed by her while appearing for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) UG-2023, the Delhi High Court has imposed Rs 20,000 as costs on the woman, making it clear that such an attempt cannot be tolerated in court of law.
Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said he intended to impose hefty costs on the petitioner woman and to refer the matter to the police but refrained from doing so in view of her tender age.
The high court said it was shocked at the approach of the petitioner who kept insisting that the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet produced by her was original while the one shown by the National Testing Agency (NTA) to the court was not genuine.
The high court said the record produced by the authorities is the official record and there was no reason to doubt its genuineness.
There is no reason to believe that NTA will fabricate or replace the marks obtained by an candidate as it has no personal stake in the exercise, it said.
“Having perused the entire material available on record and in view of the facts and circumstances of the case, this court intended to impose costs of Rs 2 lakh against the petitioner and also to send the matter for investigation to the police…
“…however, keeping in mind the tender age of the petitioner and various circumstances such as the pressure of the parents and peers, this court refrains from taking such a view and instead imposes costs of Rs 20,000 against the petitioner,” the high court said.
The high court’s judgment came on a petition by a medical aspirant from Andhra Pradesh seeking direction to NTA to produce her original OMR sheet along with the answer key of the exam, recompute her marks and publish fresh result and merit list.
The petitioner also sought direction for allotting her MBBS seat for the academic Year of NEET (UG)-2023 in any government medical college in Kerala or Andhra Pradesh.
According to the plea, NTA declared the results on June 13 and her all India rank for counselling was shown as 351. The total marks she obtained stood at 697 out of 720 with the percentile of 99.9.
She submitted her rank was also recognised by Kerala State Medical Rank List-2023 and Dr. YSR University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada NEET UG Rank-wise list of the State of Andhra Pradesh.
The plea said the petitioner was shocked while registering on the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) website when she was unable to move to the next step of registration. She claimed her aggregate marks were reduced to 103 and rank downgraded to 12,530,32 with a percentile of 38.4.
She said she made a complaint to the authorities and, when no steps were taken to redress her grievance, she approached the court.
However, NTA contended that the OMR sheet shown by the petitioner was tampered with and modified, and the responses provided by her on the it were deliberately altered in an attempt to claim higher marks in the examination.
The counsel for NTA also produced the original OMR sheet of the petitioner to the court.
The petitioner and her counsel, after perusing the original OMR sheet, still maintained it was not the actual document.
“This court is shocked with the approach of the petitioner. NTA, which is a government agency, conducts the examination where lakhs of candidates appear. In the current year of 2023, more than 20 lakhs candidates appeared,” Justice Kaurav said, adding the sequence of facts and the material available on record create genuine doubt against the bonafides of the petitioner.
The NTA’s counsel also told the court that the petitioner’s name does not figure in the merit list, a contention she contested, insisting that her name appeared earlier but was deleted.
The judge said, “Such a stand is again unacceptable and shocking to the conscience of the court.”
After comparing both the OMR sheets, the high court said, “It is to be noted that in the OMR sheet relied upon on behalf of the petitioner, a deliberate attempt has been made by the petitioner to manipulate the official record. Such an attempt cannot be tolerated in court of law”.