The Delhi High Court has directed the National Testing Agency to preserve and produce before it the electronic records pertaining to a JEE Mains exam candidate, who has alleged that answers to 13 questions in his response sheet were changed. The student has claimed that if the discrepancies are removed, it would place him in the list of top 2,000 candidates.
Issuing notice to the Centre and NTA on the petition seeking correction of the candidate’s response sheet, Justice Sanjeev Narula also directed the NTA to provide a copy of the electronic records to the candidate, who can verify the same and give his response if required.
The petition has been filed by Delhi resident Aditya Mittal through his father Vivek Mittal. According to the plea, Aditya attempted 58 out of 75 questions. The NTA issued a provisional answer key on August 3. The petition claims that when Aditya downloaded his response sheet at 10:24 on August 3 to cross check his answers, his estimated score came to be 212 marks out of 232 marks in total, which would put him in the top 2,000 candidates.
“Subsequently, on August 4, 2022 at around 08:50 am, in order to check errors that he may have committed inadvertently, Petitioner downloaded his response sheet once again, but was shocked to note multiple discrepancies, and claims that his answers/responses for 13 questions were changed,” his counsel told the court, adding that in terms of the response sheet, he would secure only 168 marks which would push his rank behind 50,000 candidates.
During the hearing held on August 5, the NTA told the court that the response sheet downloaded on August 3 and relied on by the candidate does not match with its records and therefore cannot be relied upon. It went on to argue that the same could be a false document having no veracity. The answer sheet downloaded on August 4 is the original one, NTA told the court.
NTA’s experts also explained the process of examination to the court and submitted that when a candidate appears for the examination, the computer system on which he or she gives the exam is selected on a random basis, and the screen of each candidate displays the questions in a different, randomised sequence. “The response of the candidate to each question, the movement of his cursor on the screen, and the option selected, as well as changed (if any), etc are all captured and stored electronically,” the court was told.
After perusing the candidate’s record that was given to it by NTA, the court said that the signed electronic record and the response sheet handed over by the NTA matches with the response sheet downloaded on August 4. The court thus declined to direct declaration of the candidate’s result on the basis of the response sheet downloaded on August 3.
“The above relief, if granted at this interim stage, would have the effect of giving the Petitioner a rank that is not supported by the NTA record. On that basis, any admission secured by the Petitioner would have a cascading effect,” said the court.
However, the court in the order also said that there is no prima facie reason to assume that the candidate would have created a false document only in order to improve his rank in the exam. “Conscious of the fact that any order by this Court would be passed only after hearing the Respondents, it is unimaginable that the Petitioner would create false documents,” said Justice Narula.