IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE N.ANAND VENKATESH
W.P.No.15959 of 2020
and WMP Nos.19856 & 19859 of 2020
- K.S.Manoj (Minor)
Rep. by His Father and Natural Guardian
K.Sundararajan, M/47 years 17/110A
Sarathambal Nagar Karunatham Patti Post
Sulur Taluk Coimbatore 64 ..Petitioner
1 Union of India represented by
Secretary to Government,
Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi.
2 National Testing Agency
(National Eligibility cum Entrance Test UG
Department of Higher Education, MHRD
C-20, 1A/8, IITK Outreach Centre,
Sector 62, Noida,
Uttar Pradesh – 201039
3 The Medical Counselling Committee
Rep. by Secretary
All India Quota for Medical UG 2020
Directorate General of Health Services,
Government of India,
Room No.348, A Wing, Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi.
4 The Directorate of Medical Education
No.162 Periyar E.V.R.High Road,
Kilpauk, Chennai 600010.
5 The National Medical Council
Represented by its Secretary, Pocket 14,
Sector 8, Dwarka, New Delhi 110077 ..Respondents
Prayer : Writ petition has been filed for the issue of writ of Mandamus to call for the records on the file of the 2nd Respondent pertaining to i) National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (UG) 2020 Score card issued in the name of the Petitioner dated 16/10/2020 ii) Second OMR Answer Sheet issued in the name of the Petitioner downloaded on 17/10/2020 and iii) 2nd Respondents email response dated 26/10/2020 quash the same and to issue directions to the 2nd Respondent to declare the results and rank of the petitioner in NEET (UG) 2020 as 594 of 720 marks commensurate with his performance as reflected in first OMR Anse Sheet uploaded on 16/10/2020 FN and issue consequential directions to the 3rd and 4th Respondents to allow the participation of the petitioner in the counselling for admission to Medical Courses (UG 2020 with reference to 594 out of 720 marks in NEET (UG) 2020 and accordingly provide him admission to Medical course (UG).
For Petitioner : Mr.Ravi
For Respondents : Mrs.A.Anuradha
Standing Counsel for R2
Mr.Akhil Akbar Ali
Government Advocate for R3
The petitioner in this case right from the beginning was complaining that the OMR / Answer Sheet that was uploaded on 5.10.2020 in the website of the 2nd respondent showed that the petitioner had taken 594 marks in the NEET-2020 Exams and that this position continued in the website upto 16.10.2020. However, this position changed all of a sudden on 17.10.2020 and the petitioner noticed that there was a complete change in the OMR Sheet in the same website, wherein the marks came down to 248. This Court directed the original OMR Sheet to be furnished to the learned Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of the 2nd respondent and it was also verified by the petitioner as well as the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner. On verification they found that the OMR Sheet that has been furnished was the one which was uploaded in the website on 17.10.2020.
- Initially, this Court was not convinced to dig deep into this issue, since the OMR uploaded in the website of the 2nd respondent was also physically shown to the petitioner after it was furnished by the 2nd respondent. This Court therefore directed the 2nd respondent to file an additional counter affidavit and explain as to how, two OMR Sheets can be uploaded for the very same candidate showing completely different marks.
- The 2nd respondent filed an additional counter affidavit and reiterated the stand that there was only one OMR Sheet that was uploaded in the website of the 2nd respondent and which reflected that the petitioner had secured 248 marks.
- The Additional Rejoinder filed by the petitioner based on the account retrieved from the Google Account of the petitioner, changed the entire complexion of this case. On the face of it, these materials substantiates the case of the petitioner that there were two OMR Sheets that were uploaded in the website of the 2nd respondent. The one which was uploaded on 05.10.2020 and which remained in the website till 16.10.2020 and which showed that the petitioner had secured 594 marks in the NEET Exams, has been filed by way of Additional Typed set of papers which contains the various screen shots taken by the petitioner on 11.10.2020 and 12.10.2020. This retrieved Google Account has to be taken on the face of it since it is not possible to manipulate the Google Account, which is not within the control of the petitioner.
- It is not known as to how this OMR Sheet completely changed from 17.10.2020 by bringing down the marks of the petitioner from 594 to 248. The petitioner who had informed about his marks to his friends and relatives and was confident that he will get an MBBS Seat, was shell shocked when he found that the subsequent OMR Sheet virtually reduced the marks by 50%.
- This Court is now really concerned and quite apprehensive as to whether such manipulation of OMR Sheet is a possibility. As it is, anything in an electronic mode is susceptible to manipulation and nobody can rule it out completely. If such manipulation is in fact possible, it is really a danger which requires immediate investigation. During my tenure in this Port Folio, there were several other cases which came up for consideration on the same ground that the OMR Sheet that was uploaded in the website does not truly reflect the actual answers given by the candidates in the Exam. This Court did not go deep into those cases since there was only one OMR Sheet that was available and therefore, this Court did not question that OMR Sheet merely based on the ipse dixit of the candidate. However, this case came as a surprise to this Court and made this Court think that probably there was some truth in the claim made by those students.
- If manipulations are possible, everything happening in an on-line mode, the OMR Sheet of a bright student can always be swapped with the OMR Sheet of a mediocre student and nobody can really find out the truth unless it is thoroughly enquired. This is only a fear expressed by this Court and this Court fervently hopes that this fear does not ultimately prove to be right. Even if there is a remote chance of manipulating the OMR Sheet, that is a clear harbinger of the malady that it can cause to the entire selection process. This Court is taking this issue very seriously since these candidates are future Doctors and precious lives are involved.
- In view of the above, there shall be a direction to the 2nd respondent to thoroughly consider the entire materials that have been placed by the petitioner and conduct an Investigation and a Report shall be filed before this Court. The Report must explain as to how two OMR Sheets containing the name of the petitioner was uploaded in the website and how it was completely in variance. It gives an opportunity to the 2nd respondent to plug the leak, if there is one.
- The next round of counseling is commencing from tomorrow. The petitioner cannot be made to wait till the Report is received from the 2nd respondent, since all the seats by then will get filled up. Therefore, there shall be an interim direction to the 3rd and 4th respondents to permit the petitioner to participate in the counseling for admission to the Medical UG Course by taking the marks of the petitioner in NEET Exam as 594 marks. Ultimately, if the petitioner secures a seat, the same shall not be finalised and the results shall be kept in a sealed cover, awaiting the final orders in this Writ Petition.
- The Report of the 2nd respondent shall be sent in a sealed cover to this Court. Post this case on 23.12.2020 and the Report shall reach this Court, by then.
W.P.No.15959 of 2020
and WMP Nos.19856 & 19859 of 2020