The Panchmahal district Sessions Court in Godhra on Friday heard the remand application filed by the Central Bureau of investigation (CBI), seeking four days remand of four of the five arrested accused in the alleged case of malpractice in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test. -Undergraduate (NEET-UG), held at Jay Jalaram School in Godhra’s Parvadi village, Gujarat, on May 5. An order in the case is expected on Saturday.

The four accused – Tushar Bhatt, Purshottam Sharma, Vibhor Anand and Arif Vora – have been produced before the District Court, where the CBI has sought custody on the ground that it is “conducting a fresh investigation into the NEET irregularities that can have a larger impact” on the national examination.

The CBI officials had moved their remand application before the District Court through the District Government Pleader of Panchmahal, who was earlier arguing the case for the Panchmahal district police based on the May 8 FIR against the accused.

The CBI has not sought the remand of the fifth arrested accused, Parshuram Roy – an immigration agency owner – as he has already completed the maximum period of 14-day police custody after his arrest, following the CBI FIR dated May 8. It was from Roy’s Vadodara-based office that the Panchmahal district police had seized checks allegedly handed over by parents of the students seeking the malpractice, amounting to Rs 2.3 crore. The checks have been handed over to the CBI as part of the evidence by the Gujarat Police.

On Thursday, the CBI had recorded statements of at least six local students of Gujarat, who had approached the accused for alleged malpractice in the NEET exam at the centre. The CBI also recorded statements of the school owner as well as other staff of the school in Godhra and its second school in Padal in Kheda district.

Festive offer

On Wednesday, a special CBI team visited two private schools as part of their investigation into the alleged NEET-UG irregularities on May 5 – a nationwide entrance exam conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admission in UG medical programs. They visited Jay Jalaram School in Godhra’s Parvadi village and the other one in Kheda district’s Padal – about 115 kilometers from Godhra – which was another NEET-UG exam center in the state. Both the schools are owned by Dixit Patel.

Meanwhile, another team of CBI officials visited the office of Roy Overseas Services in Vadodara from where the Panchmahal district police had seized checks that some parents of aspiring candidates had allegedly handed over to accused Parshuram Roy, an immigration agency owner, for the malpractice.

Based on a complaint filed by Panchmahal District Education Officer Kiritkumar Patel, an FIR was registered at the Godhra taluka police station on May 8, against Bhatt, Roy and Vora for allegedly conspiring to help at least 26 students clear the NEET-UG 2024 “with meritorious rank”. Anand and Sharma were named as accused in the FIR later.

According to the FIR, on May 5, the attempted malpractice was “foiled” during a raid by the education department’s inspection squad at the NEET-UG center; following an input received by the Panchmahal collector. According to the FIR, it was decided that the said students would appear for the exam and allegedly “only attempt questions they could solve” and leave the “rest of the answer sheet blank, only to be filled by agents concerned when they would be submitted to the exam supervisor”.

The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 409 (criminal breach of trust and misappropriation by a public servant or banker/ merchant/ agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly), and 120B ( criminal conspiracy). On June 23, the CBI filed a fresh FIR against unidentified accused in the case.

The central probe agency has taken over the investigation of five new cases of alleged malpractices in NEET-UG that were being probed by the police in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bihar. The NEET-UG is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country. Over 24 lakh students had appeared for the 2024 NEET-UG across centers in 571 cities nationwide. Results were released on June 4.