Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday took moral responsibility for any loss of confidence among students in competitive examination processes after several irregularities were pointed out in the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader was asked how students will trust the examination process once again after a candidate from Bihar appearing for the medical entrance exam on May 5 confessed that the question paper was leaked.

“I take moral responsibility for this,” Pradhan said at a press conference. “We have to secure the future of this country. We will have to maintain quality and transparency. We will have to honour the hard work of students who come from poor backgrounds.”

The press conference was held amid questions about the credibility of the National Testing Agency in the backdrop of irregularities in two examinations: the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate medical courses and the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test for the post of assistant professor in universities and colleges.

On Wednesday, the Centre cancelled the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test after its question paper was leaked. The exam was conducted on June 18.

Pradhan also said that the Centre has formed a high-level committee to fix responsibility within the examination conducting body, the National Testing Agency, and review its structure and functioning.

However, he said that the country should not hold the future of candidates from rural areas hostage for “some isolated incidents” of irregularities in the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test.

On Thursday, one of the students, who had appeared for the test from Bihar, confessed before the police that the question paper was leaked a night before the examination.

“According to preliminary information received from Bihar Police, some errors have happened but they are limited to specific regions,” Pradhan told reporters. “I want to assure you, after getting all information and evidence, we will take strict action against the culprits.”

The Centre would not shy away from taking action against National Testing Agency officials irrespective of their position and seniority, he said.

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