NTA Director General Replaced, CBI Takes Over NEET and UGC-NET Exam Leak Investigations

National Testing Agency
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New Delhi, 22nd June 2024: In response to mounting controversies over irregularities in competitive exams, the government on Saturday replaced the National Testing Agency (NTA) Director General Subodh Singh and postponed the NEET-PG entrance exam scheduled for Sunday as a precautionary measure.

The move follows the establishment of a high-level committee led by former ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan to ensure the fair conduct of examinations. This marks the third disruption affecting lakhs of aspirants within four days. On June 19, the UGC-NET was canceled due to a paper leak, and the CSIR-NET, initially set for June 25-27, was postponed on June 21. More than two lakh students who registered for the NEET-PG exam were left in limbo with less than 24 hours to go before the scheduled date.

The government has also handed over investigations into alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG held on May 5 to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This follows the recent transfer of the UGC-NET probe to the CBI as well.

Acknowledging the crisis, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “I have already said there has been an institutional failure. I have taken responsibility. NTA’s leadership is under the scanner for a host of issues. Accidents happen and we will go to the root of the cause.”

India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) Chairperson and MD, Pradeep Singh Kharola, who was instrumental in completing the delayed Pragati Maidan project, has been assigned additional charge of the NTA until a permanent appointment is made.

The newly formed seven-member committee, chaired by K. Radhakrishnan, includes Dr. Randeep Guleria, former director of AIIMS Delhi; B. J. Rao, vice-chancellor of Central University of Hyderabad; Ramamurthy K, Professor Emeritus in the department of civil engineering at IIT-Madras; Pankaj Bansal, co-founder of PeopleStrong and board member of Karmayogi Bharat; and Aditya Mittal, dean of student affairs at IIT-Delhi. Govind Jaiswal, joint secretary, will serve as the member secretary of the committee.

The committee is tasked with providing recommendations on reforms in the exam process, improvements in data security protocols, and the structure and functioning of the NTA. It is expected to submit its report within two months. The terms of reference for the committee include reviewing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and protocols of the NTA, conducting an end-to-end analysis of the exam process, and suggesting measures to improve system efficiency and prevent breaches.

The government’s swift actions come in the wake of alleged paper leaks and irregularities in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG). The committee will evaluate the existing data security processes, particularly those related to paper-setting and examination procedures, and will assess the structure and functioning of the NTA, including its organizational structure, roles and responsibilities of functionaries, and the current grievance redressal mechanism.