New Delhi: The Supreme Court refused a plea urging it to call for a detailed status report from the Uttarakand Police of its investigation into alleged leakage of the NEET-II question papers in the state.
Refusing to step in and monitor the investigation, a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageswara Rao said: “We don’t want to monitor. We have asked the central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to have an open mind” and see the material emerging from the investigation by police.
The petitioner, a student who had appeared in NEET-II, had also urged the court to direct the Central Board of Secondary Education to conduct a re-examination if prima facie the allegations of paper leakage were found to be correct on basis of status report submitted by Uttarakhand Police.
Holding that the “court can’t be loaded” with cases, it permitted the petitioner to approach the Uttarakhand High Court if there was fresh material in support of his contention.
Rejecting the plea, the bench noted that on July 24 itself – when the alleged leak was reported – the full board of the CBSE had examined the papers sent to it by the state police and found that they had nothing to do with the question papers of the NEET-II.
Besides this, the court also noted that the all the material sent by the Uttarakhand Police to CBSE was also looked into by the Oversight Committee headed by former Chief Justice R.M.Lodha and it too found no foul play.
The apex court by its May 9, 2016, order directing NEET-II had asked the oversight committee comprising Justice Lodha, former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences Director, Shiv Sarin to oversee the conduct of NEET-II by the CBSE.
It is the same oversight committee was set-up by the top court on May 2 to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India including its statutory functions and vetting of all its policy decisions as it took a dim view of its working.
At the outset of the hearing of the petition, the counsel for the CBSE told the court that soon after Uttarakhand Police informed it on the morning of July 24 about the recovery of some papers from some boys, it asked Police to send the seized material by email.
On examination of the material by all the members of the Board, CBSE counsel told the bench, it was found not a single question tallied with the question papers that were given by the Board to the students who took NEET-II exam.
The bench was told that entire material was placed before the Justice Lodha committee which after scrutinising the same gave a clean chit and asked the Board to issue a press release to that affect.
Describing the CBSE response as a “standard defence” which it had advanced even in 2015 when the allegation of leakage of AIPMT papers in Haryana were raised before the top court last year, senior counsel Sanjay Hagde told the bench that the state police had sent “a little material” to CBSE and based on “it (CBSE) decided to shut its eyes after looking into it”.
The top court had on June 15, 2015, scrapped the All India Pre Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) for 2015-16 following the leak of its question paper and circulation of their answer keys through electronic devices at different examination centres in 10 states across the country.
Assailing the submission by the CBSE, senior counsel Hegde appearing the petitioner candidate wondered what kind of material police would have got within three hours of its initial investigation.