Sai Akshay (18) from Chennai alleged that his Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet has been manipulated, which resulted in him being awarded zero marks in the test.
“When I checked the answer keys after completing the test, my score was close to 520, which made me confident of getting a medical seat. But when the result was declared, I was shocked to see that I scored zero. There has been a clear manipulation in the results,” Akshay told DT Next. The result has left his family bewildered, as he was a bright student who topped his school. “Akshay was the school topper in SSLC scoring 475 marks out of 500. In Class 12 board exams, he scored 516 marks out of 600, with 76 in Physics, 91 in Chemistry and 88 in Biology. How could he get zero marks in the medical entrance,” asked Muthukumar, Akshay’s brother-in-law.
According to Muthukumar, after the result was declared, they obtained the OMR sheet from National Testing Agency (NTA) and were shocked to see that none of the answers were marked on the sheet. “Even the handwriting was different, which shows that it was a clear case of manipulation,” alleged Muthukumar. The family raised the matter with NTA but is yet to get any response from the agency. “We have been sending mails to NTA, but did not receive a reply for three days. We are clueless,” said Muthukumar, who is also considering the option of approaching the court.
Similar allegations of answer sheets being tampered have emerged from Coimbatore and Ariyalur too. However, the NTA has not responded to any of the queries from them so far.
The matter has triggered a controversy, with many political parties alleging that the results were manipulated to favour some states. They claimed that the manipulation had happened on a larger scale and deliberate.
OMR sheets could have been replaced after exams, say experts
Meanwhile, experts in Tamil Nadu ruled out the possibility of changing the bubble data, but point out that answer sheets could be swapped. The only possibility would be to replace the OMR answer sheets with another before it is downloaded by the candidates, they added.
“The ink of a ball-point pen, which would be given in any competitive exam centre, cannot be erased. Besides, if a candidate makes two bubbles in his answer sheet, it will be automatically rejected by the OMR scanning software,” a senior official from Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) said on condition of anonymity.
Ruling out the possibility of error while scanning the answer sheets, he said the competitive exams conducted by the State and Centre used one of the best OMR software. Most recruitment exams conducted by the Commission also use OMR sheets, he said, adding that the answer sheets would be evaluated within three to four days after the exams. “However, at the time of results, there is a possibility of OMR sheets getting damaged or ink getting leaked to other sheets, as they would be kept in bundles for several days,” he said.
Agreeing to the official’s contention that scanning error was a remote possibility, S Thiyarajan, a data analyst and IT professional in Chennai, said more than 40 sensors work together to scan OMR sheets. “Once scanning is over, the information/inputs by the candidates will be converted to a computer data file,” he said, adding that all OMR sheets would be individually scanned and would be stored in the portal from where candidates can download them.