With the National Testing Agency (NTA) announcing that JEE candidates can get the application forms online at jeemain.nta.nic.in. by November 20 for the 2023 JEE Mains exam, individuals who took the exams in 2022 have expressed concerns over their future as technical glitches and inaccurate response sheets hampered their chances.
The issue of technical glitches, which were highlighted by several candidates who took the exams in the first and second session, was brought before the Supreme Court in July 2022. Though the court made the decision to allow 15 students to participate in the additional session of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main 2022 scheduled on July 30, it rejected an intervention in a similar case on August 26 due to the same being near the JEE Advanced exam which was scheduled for August 28.
Candidates remain worried despite attempts
From the exam questions reappearing and disappearing on the screen to blank, frozen screens, candidates had included certain grievances in their petition to the Supreme Court.
Fast forward to November 2022, some candidates are on a hope and a prayer while others have moved on.
“We made many representations to the apex court and IITs about the issues we faced. We highlighted the fact that exam centres changed just hours before the exam, discrepancies in response sheets and much more but to no avail. Our issues are not being brought to limelight as much as the ones faced by CUET candidates,” said Manav Naik, a JEE Mains candidate, who hails from Telangana.
“A report was also submitted by us to institutes such as IIT Guwahati which showcased the decreasing number of JEE Advanced students appearing for the exam, especially in 2022 after so many cases of irregularities,” alleged Manav.
Russian hacker’s involvement raises alarm
In its report, JEE Advanced’s official website showed that 10, 26, 799 candidates registered for the exam in 2022, compared to 10,48,012 in 2021 and 11,74,562 in 2020.
The issue of irregularities in JEE Mains exams assumes significance as a Russian hacker, by the name of Mikhail Shargen, was arrested by the CBI for allegedly hacking the JEE examination software which had benefited over 800 aspirants. Shargen, who is out on bail, was accused of tampering iLeon software and hacking computer systems of candidates during the JEE Mains 2021 exam.
Not just tech issues, Covid played a part too
Candidates, who took the JEE Mains exam in 2021 after passing out from 12th and faced software issues, say that certain situations out of their control were also not considered to enable them another attempt in the exam.
“I passed out of 12th in 2021 during the peak of Covid and have taken two JEE Mains attempts so far compared. The 2020 batch were eligible to appear for JEE Advanced after two attempts due to Covid, since we appeared during the height of virus we should be able to avail a reattempt,” said Harshit Singh, a candidate from Madhya Pradesh who says if not IIT, he wants to take admission in National Institute of Technology (NITs), Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIITs), etc.
Some put the ‘IIT dream’ behind, rely on other options
Some candidates left their home states for better opportunities, putting dreams of getting into an IIT behind.
“I have taken admission in an engineering college in Karnataka after taking the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) which was way better for me and I am moving to Bangalore in a week for the same,” said Keshav Ojha, who has enrolled in Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering.
KCET is a state-level entrance exam managed and conducted by the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) every year for admission to Architecture, Engineering and Pharmacy courses at the undergraduate level to various colleges in Karnataka.
What SC, HC advocates have to say
Advocates who have provided support to the candidates in the apex court say that the next stop for aggrieved candidates could be the Delhi High Court.
“Some candidates might raise the issue at Delhi HC is what we know so far,” said a Supreme Court advocate, Sumanth Nookala who took up the cases earlier for candidates who faced issues during the exams.
Another lawyer from Delhi HC said that such cases are vague and fall apart quickly in the court. “These cases are not strong on the ground level since we can’t prove that these software glitches and issues were directly caused by the NTA. So we hesitate to take it up as well,” said the lawyer on the condition of anonymity.
Session 1 and 2 of JEE Main 2023 will take place in January and April, same as every year but the dates haven’t been revealed by NTA.