While hearing a related case, the Madras High Court on Friday suo motu included the Union Ministries of Human Resource Development and Health as parties in the Tamil Nadu NEET impersonation case and sought a report from CB-CID about the progress in the investigation.
Besides asking the MHRD and National Testing Agency to elaborate on the process of examination, Justice N Kirubakaran asked the CB-CID to furnish details about the number of students who gained admission by fraudulent methods, how many persons helped them during malpractice and whether government officials or the college administration is also involved in this fraud. “Prima facie, it is clear that without the cooperation of any person, it is impossible for a student to make another person to write his exam,” he said.
The court was hearing a matter related to NRI quota in medical admission being sold as management quota. Noting that the NEET matter was serious, the court said the case may not be confined to Tamil Nadu due to the involvement of impersonators from other states.
Four students and their parents have been arrested in the case, while two agents who arranged impersonators and took huge sums of money from students are at large.
Two days after his father was arrested, first-year MBBS student Mohammed Irfan surrendered before a judicial magistrate in Salem on Tuesday. Irfan’s father, who ran two clinics near Vellore, was found to be a quack. Irfan, who got admission in Dharmapuri Government Medical College this year, was among the five students who allegedly used an impersonator to clear the NEET exam. The fifth student, according to an officer, hired an impersonator outside Tamil Nadu and also wrote the exam on her own, but was found to have used no fake certificates as “she scored more than the impersonator”.
A senior officer said Irfan was hiding since September when the first case of impersonation came to light in Theni Government Medical College, where a student Udit Surya, son of a senior doctor of state-run Stanley Medical College in Chennai, was caught red handed following an anonymous complaint about the photograph of a different person in his NEET marks card. Both Surya and his father Dr Venkatesan were arrested by CB-CID from a lodge in Tirupati.
Investigators also arrested S Praveen, an MBBS student of SRM Medical College, Rahul of Balaji Medical College and his father Davis. Surya, Dr Venkatesan, other accused students and their parents were sent to judicial custody. While Surya and his father sought the help of a Mumbai-based person to write the exam for him in Mumbai, Praveen and Rahul allegedly hired impersonators in Delhi and Lucknow and got their exams cleared from there.
“Some NEET coaching centres seem to have indirectly played a role in this conspiracy. There are roadblocks in the probe due to loopholes in procedures and execution of NEET exam,” the officer said. The CB-CID had also sought a report from Centre to trace students who appeared simultaneously from different centres for NEET 2019 exam, held on a single day across India.
Students paid Rs 20-40 lakh to agents to hire impersonators, investigators said. The officer said there were lapses by medical college managements, too. “Had they verified the photographs of students with their NEET marks card, this wouldn’t have happened. For instance, in Theni Medical College, we have information that an alleged impersonation was reported to the management in advance. We are verifying those facts as some officials there were known to the accused student’s father,” the officer said.