Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 20: Around 35 fishermen from Tamil Nadu who were arrested more than a month ago from near the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in the Indian Ocean, and tried and fined 25,000 Pounds Sterling, were on Monday handed over to the Indian Coast Guard, a defence statement said.

The fishermen had ventured to fishing areas in the deep sea, around 230 nautical miles near the BIOT -- an archipelago of 58 islands covering some 640,000 sq km of ocean.

The area is a British Overseas Territory, located approximately halfway between East Africa and Indonesia, and administered from London, the statement said.

The fishermen were arrested on September 29, tried at BIOT and fined 25,000 British Pounds, it said.

One boat has been seized as the fine was not paid, while another boat and its 35 crew members were released, it said.

They were brought off Vizhinjam on BIOT patrol vessel 'Grampien Endurance' and on their own fishing boat. They were handed over at sea to Indian Coast Guard ships 'Anagh' and 'C 441', the statement said.

The fishermen are expected to arrive at Vizhinjam around 7:30 pm where they will be medically examined and interrogated by agencies concerned.

Subsequently, they will be handed over to the Fisheries Department for safe passage to Thengapattinam in Tamil Nadu, the statement added.

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New Delhi, Jun 12: Sixty-three cases of students using unfair means were reported in NEET-UG out of whom 23 have been debarred for varying periods, NTA officials said Wednesday, but reiterated the sanctity of the medical entrance exam hasn't been compromised and there has been no paper leak.

The result of the remaining 40 candidates who were found using unfair means have been withheld, NTA DG Subodh Kumar Singh told PTI.

"A committee was constituted consisting of three eminent experts in field of examination and academics to put forward different types of cases reported such as impersonation, cheating and tampering with OMR sheet," NTA DG Subodh Kumar Singh told PTI.

"On recommendations of the panel, 12 candidates were debarred from taking the exam for three years, nine candidates debarred for two years and two candidate for one year each. The result of remaining candidates has been withheld. The panel had given recommendations for each case," Singh added.

The total number of cases of usage of unfair means was 63, he said.

The agency is under criticism amid allegations of irregularities and inflation of marks in the crucial medical entrance exam.

The matter has also reached the top court which said on Tuesday the sanctity of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG), 2024 has been affected and sought responses from the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) on another plea seeking holding of the examination afresh on grounds of alleged question paper leak and other malpractices.

Amid fire from protesting students and opposition parties, the Education Ministry had last week set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to 1,563 students to compensate them for loss of time due to delay in starting examination at certain centres.

"The panel is yet to submit its report. Depending upon the panel's recommendations, either a retest will be conducted for nearly 1,600 students or an alternate mechanism may be devised to ensure no candidate faces any disadvantage," he said.

Asked about allegations of marks inflation due to which 67 candidates have bagged top rank, Singh said, out of 67 candidates who got 720 out of 720 marks, 44 candidates received marks on account of revision of answer key of physics and 6 on account of loss of time.

"Only two candidates who got grace marks have received 718 and 719 marks," he clarified.