The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the National Testing Agency (NTA) to hand over the thumb impressions of the 4,250 students who were admitted to various MBBS courses this year in Tamil Nadu to the CB-CID. The court also ordered for the profiles of all MBBS students admitted in the academic year 2019-20 to be re-verified.
This direction comes a day after the testing authority gave the profiles of the 19 students from Tamil Nadu who had chosen to write NEET in centres outside the state. A bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice P Velmurugan said that officers who verified the students’ dresses and hair had failed to cross-check their faces. The bench added that in the future, face recognition also be used for students appearing for the exam.
The court also added the CBI as a respondent in the case, since the probe may have to be extended to other states as well. Furthermore, it ordered the Tamil Nadu government and the Centre to tell the court the steps that they will take to ensure that the test is conducted fairly in the future.
The judges also said that if the seats obtained by the students through impersonation infringed upon the seats reserved for students from the SC/ST categories, then provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act must also be added.
The CB-CID submitted in court that it has arrested six persons, including four students, in connection with the case so far and that 19 other suspects have also been identified. According to the CB-CID, teams have been formed to reportedly ‘verify the credentials of the 19 suspects.
The court will take up the matter next on October 24. Meanwhile, the court has also restrained the media from revealing the identities of the students who are being probed.
The NEET impersonation scam came to light when the Dean of the Government Medical College in Theni got two emails from a man named Ashok Krishnan, who alleged that a first-year student who had hired an impersonator to appear for NEET on his behalf. The Dean then had conducted an internal inquiry and filed a police complaint on the issue. The case was transferred from Tamil Nadu police to the CB-CID, which proceeded to arrest students and their parents who were allegedly involved in the impersonation.