New Delhi, October 28: The Supreme Court Thursday permitted the National Testing Agency to declare the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) results for admission to undergraduate medical courses across the country, saying that it cannot hold the results of over 16 lakh students.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai also stayed the Bombay High Court's recent order asking the NTA not to declare the NEET results and conduct re-examination for two aspirants whose question papers and OMR sheets had got mixed up at a centre in Maharashtra.

“We stay the high court judgement. The National Testing Agency can announce the results,” the bench said after taking note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the NTA. “We will decide what happens to the two students upon reopening (after Diwali vacation). In the meanwhile, we issue notice and file a counter. But we cannot hold the results of 16 lakh students,” the bench said. NEET Results 2021: Supreme Court Permits NTA to Declare Results of NEET for Admissions in UG Medical Courses.

In an unprecedented order, the Bombay High Court on October 20 directed the NTA, set up in 2018 for conducting NEET for admission to undergraduate medical courses, to hold fresh exams for the two students and declare their results along with the main results of the test conducted on September 12.

The high court had taken note of the fact that the test booklet and OMR sheet of two medical aspirants -- Vaishanavi Bhopali and Abhishek Shivaji – got mixed up at the examination centre before the start of the test and ordered that they be given fresh opportunity to appear.

At the outset, the law officer raised the issue of the high court's stay on the declaration of results and said that the NTA would act to rectify the confusion, if any, of the students whose question papers and OMR sheets got mixed.

The counsel for NEET aspirants, Bhopali and Shivaji, said the high court considered the problems faced by the students that they were given “wrong answer sheet” as the serial number of question papers were different and it has been accepted by the invigilators also.

“Then questions were attempted in a hurry. The only solution was leniency. It was like a common order passed by the High Court,” the lawyer said. “They are bright students as they all got more than ninety per cent marks in the qualifying examination. The invigilator has accepted that there was a mix up. How can we leave students in lurch,” the bench asked.

Simultaneously, the bench also observed that it cannot hold the results of over 16 lakh students and can decide the case of the two aspirants after Diwali vacation. Earlier, the NTA had sought urgent hearing of its appeal against the High Court's order saying that the declaration of the results were being halted due to the order of the high court.

The NTA, in its appeal, said that the NEET (UG), 2021 Examination for more than 16 lakh candidates has been conducted on September 12, and due to the high court's order it has not been able “to declare their results even though the same is ready for declaration".

“The delay in declaration of Result of NEET (UG) 2021 will affect and further delay the subsequent process of admission to Undergraduate Medical Courses i.e. MBBS, BDS, BAMS, BSMS, BUMS and BHMS Courses,” it said in the plea.

The two students said the invigilators started distributing the test booklet to all the students at the scheduled time 1.50 pm. “However, while distributing the test booklets fell down. As a result the test booklets and the OMR sheets therein fell down and got mixed up,” the plea said.

The high court, besides ordering re-examination and staying the declaration of the results, also directed that the NTA “shall give 48 hrs clear notice to the Petitioners about the date of examination and the centre allotted to the Petitioners”.

Making it clear that the order shall not be treated as a precedent, the high court had also directed the NTA to issue the admit card or permission as is required for the purpose of appearing for the examination directed to be held, in advance.

“Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 are advised to frame appropriate Rules/guidelines for providing remedial measures in case of such difficulties that may arise in similar situations, in future, keeping in mind the interest and future of such students,” the high court said.

The NEET Entrance Exam was conducted on September 12, for "16,14,777 candidates, involving 3,682 centres in 202 cities, 9,548 Centre Superintendents/ Deputy Superintendents, 5,615 Observers, 2,69,378 Invigilators and 220 City Co-ordinators," the NTA said in the plea.

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