While there is no doubt that the question paper for the undergraduate National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test was leaked, the extent of the leak will determine if a retest needs to be ordered, the Supreme Court said on Monday, reported Bar and Bench.

The entrance test is conducted by the National Testing Agency for admissions to undergraduate medical courses. After the results of this year’s examination were announced on June 4, allegations of question paper leaks and other irregularities came to light.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra was hearing a batch of petitions pertaining to the alleged irregularities.

The bench said that if the extent of the question paper leak is not extensive, “then there is no cancellation [of the examination]”.

“Before we order a retest, we must be careful,” the bench said. “We are dealing with the careers of 23 lakh students.”

The court laid out three parameters to decide if a retest needs to be conducted: if the leak was on a systemic level, if the nature of the leak affects the integrity of the entire exam process and if it is possible to segregate those candidates who benefited from the leak.

If the paper leak was widespread and it is not possible to segregate those candidates who benefited from it, a retest may be ordered, said the court.

To determine this, the National Testing Agency was asked to tell the court when the leak first took place, what was the manner in which the leaked question papers were disseminated and the duration between the leak and the exam.

The test was held on May 5.

The agency was also directed to tell the court the steps it had taken to identify the candidates who benefited from the paper leak, the modalities that had been followed to identify them and the centres where the leak took place.

The Union government and the National Testing Agency have been asked to inform the court about the feasibility of the cyber forensics unit using data analytics to identify suspicious cases and segregate those who benefitted from the leak.

The court also sought a status report from the Central Bureau of Investigation on its probe into the irregularities in the examination.

All the details are required to be submitted to the court by 5 pm on July 10. The case will be heard next on July 11.

After the results of the undergraduate National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test were announced on June 4, several aspirants alleged that an inflation of marks had led to 67 candidates securing the top rank, including six from the same examination centre. Some reports also alleged that at some centres, the question paper was leaked before the examination.

In June, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the grace marks given to 1,563 students in the examination will be cancelled. Those candidates were given the choice to either appear for a re-examination or retain their original scores, which would exclude the compensatory marks that had been given to them.

The Central Bureau of Investigation on June 22 filed a first information report on a complaint by the director of the Department of Higher Education in the Union education ministry.

In its complaint to the central agency, the ministry alleged that “certain isolated incidents occurred in a few states” during the entrance examination.

On June 28, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested two persons from Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh in connection with allegations of a paper leak. The arrests came a day after it arrested two men from Bihar’s Patna in connection with the same case.

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