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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Congress seeks Supreme Court-monitored probe into JEE paper ‘fraud’

Asking why the Education Ministry and the NTA should not be held liable for "consistent frauds" in JEE (Mains) exams in 2020 and 2021, the opposition party demanded an inquiry of the "entire fraud" under the supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 5, 2021 8:12:32 am
Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh. (PTI)

A day after the CBI arrested seven people in connection with a case of alleged rigging of Joint Entrance Examination (Mains) examination this year, the Congress on Saturday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the “fraud” and raised questions on the reliability of other examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Asking why the Education Ministry and the NTA should not be held liable for “consistent frauds” in JEE (Mains) exams in 2020 and 2021, the opposition party demanded an inquiry of the “entire fraud” under the supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge.

An official in the National Testing Agency denied the charges that the agency was not taking enough measures to protest against unfair means.

This official pointed out that NTA had, just before the August-September cycle, introduced artificial intelligence-based video analytics to monitor “vulnerable test centres” for attempts at examination manipulation. This was in addition to measures that TCS iON was taking to conduct the examination.

TCS iON, the country’s largest digital assessment company, has been tasked by NTA to conduct the JEE (Mains) examination online. The company takes care of the logistics and is also tasked with ensuring fair and secure conduct of examination.

The NTA is unlikely to delay the result of the August-September cycle, The Indian Express has learnt. “What CBI has unearthed are cases of unfair means. As soon as we are informed of the candidates involved, we will cancel their results,” the senior NTA official said. “This should not be confused with paper leak, which usually merits cancellation of the examination. There was no leakage of examination paper here.”

Addressing the media, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh said, “How can a student be ensured that these types of frauds and manipulations have not happened in other examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency? If one of the most prestigious entrance examinations of country is not spared by these frauds, then what is the quality of future professionals we are generating?”

Calling it a “breach”, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “JEE (Main) Exam has been breached. Students appearing for such competitive exams prepare very hard, battling difficulties of various kinds. We, as a nation, owe them a fair exam. GOI is better at providing cover-ups.”

Vallabh said: “From VYAPAM to SSC-2017 to CBSE Class X & XII-2018 to 28 entrance exams in Haryana to JEE Main 2020 (Assam Topper Scam) to JEE Main 2021 — the only thing common is that these examinations have messed up the future of students of our country,” the Congress said.

The NTA official, however, pointed out that the agency had identified 120 vulnerable centres based on a few parameters. One, for instance, was whether a centre had in the past reported too many successful candidates — more than the national average. Of these 120 centres, 23 were blacklisted and removed, while the remaining were kept under “special watch” with the help of special observers, the official said.

According to the official, in the examination cycle conducted from August 26 to September 2, the NTA had caught nine cases in which candidates were found to be using unfair means during the examination and these candidates will stand debarred from taking the JEE (Mains) for three years.

“We had started monitoring test centres through live video feed from 5.30 am to check for any unusual movements. If any suspicious activity or movement was noticed before and during the examination, the AI software would alert us and then we would alert the invigilators or our observers to be extra vigilant,” the official said. We had also assigned third party auditors to the vulnerable centres. These third party auditors were trained in forensics and had an understanding of online examination malpractices,” the officers said.

The NTA has, meanwhile, asked TCS iON for an explanation on how the JEE(Main) examination process was breached.

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