Neet Paper Leak: How the paper is prepared, how it is monitored, NTA told the whole story to SC


There are continuous protests across the country regarding the NEET UG paper leak. Opposition parties as well as a large number of students are demanding that this exam be canceled. The matter is currently in the Supreme Court and here the National Examination Agency has explained in a systematic manner how the paper is prepared.

There are continuous protests across the country against the NEET UG paper leak (File/PTI)

The NEET-UG paper leak case is going on in the Supreme Court and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for today, Thursday. The National Examination Agency (NTA) has filed its affidavit in the Supreme Court on the matter. In its affidavit, the NTA explained how the paper for competitive examinations is prepared under strict supervision. In the affidavit, the agency explained in detail that several levels of security have been created to prepare the question paper, get it printed and then deliver it to the examination center.

NTA said that the process of making a question paper bank is a long one and its preparation starts well in advance. To make the paper, many experts and centers were invited to the NTA office in a restricted area. Where they made the papers in workshop mode. These workshops were held on different occasions. A total of 140 subject experts participated in such workshops held between August and December 2023.

Seal is a daily job

It is pertinent to mention here that the work of these experts was sealed at the end of each day and returned to them the next day so that they could continue their work, the examination agency said.

After the paper bank was prepared, a committee of 10 subject experts and moderators jointly prepared the question paper. From 16 February to 28 February, the subject experts and moderators were seated in a room or hall under CCTV surveillance. A minimum of 2 completely independent question papers are prepared for each exam. Subject experts are different for each subject paper. In this way, 2 independent sets of question papers (QP1 and QP2 sets) were prepared for NEET (UG) 2024.

Different experts for the paper

Then after the format of the question paper was prepared, these papers were solved by a team of 9 other subject experts, who gave their feedback or suggestions. These experts were also asked to seal their work in an envelope. For this, they were given time from 16 February to 28 February 2024. Subject experts or moderators were seated in a room or hall under CCTV surveillance. At least 2 completely independent question papers are made for every exam. There are different subject experts for the question paper of each subject. After getting the feedback, subject experts and moderators prepared the question paper. Then the set of paper was changed.

NTA said that after deciding the set, the question paper was separated from the answer key. MAD was sent to a confidential agency or printer for typing and 3040 logs were made in a register.

After the preparation and typing of the question papers, they were translated into 12 languages ​​by a team of 101 translators between 8 and 31 March 2024. This confidential work was kept in a sealed envelope at the end of each day. This was done so that the entire work done by the experts is kept confidential even from the officials and employees of NTA.

Printing under CCTV surveillance

After the question paper was finalised, the manuscript of its 2 sets was sent to 2 different confidential printing presses on 31 March 2024. Each printing press prepares 24 sets of question papers. The agency said that the names of the printing presses are kept confidential and only 2 officials from among the respondent were involved in this process. For confidentiality, a thorough investigation is conducted in the printing press through CCTV.

Then the OMR sheet and the respective question paper (both having the same serial number) were put together in a polythene cover which was duly sealed. This seal was to be opened only by the candidate. A pack of 24 such test booklets was kept inside a cloth envelope. 3 sets containing a total of 72 booklets were kept inside special cloth envelopes (24 booklets each).

Packing in cloth bags

After strapping of the fabric envelopes, the material is packed in non-woven fabric bags and then sealed. The non-woven fabric bags are packed in specially designed trunks as per the requirements of each centre. Every trunk has an electronic lock (GPS equipped) and a mechanical lock with no keys as it can be opened by breaking it.

The trunk is also sealed with a sticker on all joints and wrapped in security gum tape. Any tampering with the digital lock is immediately noted on a real-time basis with all details. The sealing process was captured through CCTV cameras at the press.

digital lock with gps tracker

The sealed trunk was handed over to a reliable all India logistics company for transportation and dispatched to its base. Meanwhile the OMR (Optical Mark Reader - Answer Sheet) sheets were printed elsewhere and picked up by Press A and Press B. Every OMR sheet has a unique number with a bar code. It also has additional unique ARumber security features. The corresponding QP was printed with the same serial. This process is done under a strict security protocol including BSA.

The sealed iron trunk was shipped to Hazaribagh, Jharkhand on 28 April 2024. The authorized company loaded the sealed iron trunk on a dedicated closed body vehicle and an electronic lock was installed on the door with a one-time seal. The movement of this vehicle was tracked by the logistics company. The truck also has a digital lock with a GPS tracker giving real-time information.

The sealed iron trunks were handed over to the concerned custodian (SBI Bank) at Hazaribagh on May 3, 2024 and kept in a safety vault by the bank. The bank received the trunks and also gave an acknowledgement of the same to the logistics company. Then the question papers were collected from the custodians on behalf of the city coordinators and other officials.

Monitoring by Superintendent and Supervisor

The authorised officer of the answering respondent informed the City Coordinators of NEET (UG) 2024 to collect the confidential material from the custodian (SBI) at around 5 am on 5 May 2024. The said information was circulated through NTA's application for communication with the exam functionaries. The sealed iron trunk was collected by the concerned centre superintendent of Hazaribagh after 7.30 am on 1 May.

As per the guidelines, the centre superintendent and NTA - supervisor verify the number of trunks and the status of the locks. On 5th May 2024, the authorised othelials of the respondent were informed to the City Coordinators of NEET (UG) 2024 to collect the confidential material from the custodian (SBT). The said information was disseminated through NTA's application for communication with the examination officials.

The trunk opens in front of 2 observers and 2 candidates

The sealed Tron Trunks were collected by the concerned Centre Superintendent of Hazaribagh from the custodian (SBI) after 7.30 am on 5th May 2024. As per the guidelines, the Centre Superintendent and NTA supervisor verified the number of trunks and the condition of the locks.

Then 2 invigilators and 2 candidates are required to witness the process of opening the sealed trunk, who are also required to certify the process by signing on a prescribed form. Each invigilator gets an envelope containing 24 booklets. This was to be opened in the examination hall in the presence of the candidates 10 minutes before the exam. The booklets were to be distributed in a sequential manner as per the seating plan. As per the norms, the candidates were to open the seal of the question paper at 1.55 pm (IST).