Candidates who took the all-India medical entrance exam NEET in Tamil will receive extra marks as the question paper contained errors. The Madras High Court today asked the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Exams) to award 196 marks out of a total of 720 to all candidates who took the NEET paper in Tamil. The board will issue a revised ranking list in two weeks and counselling for medical course will be suspended till then.
“All students who had taken NEET in Tamil will now get an additional 196 marks out of 720, whether they had attempted these wrong questions or not,” counsel for petitioner, Shaji Chellam, told NDTV.
The court’s decision will benefit around 24,000 students, many of whom were anxious about their future. It would also have ramifications for students across the country as the rankings could be drastically altered.
The petitioner, CPM lawmaker TK Rangarajan, claimed 49 questions were wrong in the Tamil version of the NEET paper and asked that the students be given full marks on these questions. The lawmaker also contended that despite knowing that a petition on the matter was filed and was due for hearing, the CBSE had released the results.
“We found both the questions as well their answers wrong,” Shaji Chellam said, citing an instance where “Cheetah was translated as Seetha in Tamil”.
In its observations, the court said the Central Board was being “autocratic” about the errors.
“How do you decide the right answers for the questions based on majority view? The CBSE is accepting even wrong answers under the pretext of majority decision. How is that in Bihar state so many students got through the examination?” questioned the bench of Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed, which was hearing the issue.
With the petition contending that most of the errors were due to incorrect translation of the questions, which were framed in English, the court had asked the education board to file an affidavit. The board was asked to explain whether it has started any exercise to list English words in science subjects that do not have a proper Tamil equivalent. The judges had however said the mistakes in the question paper were not just a case of ambiguity.
Mr Rangarajan called the court order a “victory for Tamil Nadu”. “Many had helped us to present a strong case to the court. I hope many children from Tamil Nadu would benefit,” he added.
Performance by students from Tamil Nadu drastically dropped in NEET this year and academicians had blamed it on the bungled question paper. Last year, a state topper, Anitha, committed suicide after she failed to crack NEET. This year, two other girls killed themselves after poor performance.
Tamil Nadu had abolished the medical entrance exam for nearly a decade, arguing that in the current system, high scoring rural students from poor backgrounds don’t do well as they are unable to afford private coaching like their urban counterparts. During the DMK regime, the state government had obtained the President’s assent to exempt the state from entrance tests.
The NDA government, however, made NEET mandatory.