The Madras High Court, on Thursday, ordered for the National Testing Agency (NTA) to look into allegations of manipulation of OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) answer sheets that were uploaded on its official website for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) candidates. The directive was given by Justice N Anand Venkatesh while considering the plea of a student from Coimbatore, who had alleged that the answers on his sheet online changed between October 15 and 17.
According to the student, KS Manoj, who is a resident of Karumathampatti, when he calculated his NEET score based on the answer sheet available on October 15, he had secured close to 600 marks. But a day before the results, when he checked again, the answers marked only added upto 248. Shocked by this, his family called NEET helplines to clarify the matter but did not receive a satisfactory response.
"I saw that the OMR answer sheet had changed. Only the answers for the 248 marks they had awarded me were on it. This was not my sheet. My signature and roll number are correct but the answers marked are different," he had earlier told TNM.
Other students in the state, too, reported similar discrepancies, including 17-year-old Manju from Ariyalur district. She, too, had alleged that the OMR sheet she downloaded was not her answer sheet. She had scored only 37 marks when she was expecting a minimum of 600.
"The first and last columns are my daughter's OMR sheet but the columns in between are not from her paper," said Maharani, Manju's mother to TNM. "This sheet doesn't belong to my daughter. She left only three questions to even avoid negative marks. We have worked day and night for this exam. Please give us our original OMR," she added.
In addition to writing to the NTA, Manoj also approached the Madras High Court.
The court noted that if manipulations were possible, then the OMR sheets of students could be swapped without anyone finding out. The Bench stated that such a possibility would bring malady to the selection process and that it was taking the matter very seriously.
Based on the evidence of change submitted by Manoj and his family, the court noted that immediate investigation was required in the matter.