Police have arrested eight employees of the examination department of University of Mumbai (MU) for allegedly helping students to tamper with their answer sheets a day or two after the examinations were over.
At present, after a student appears for an examination, the answer sheet stays in transit or is stored at the examination house for two-three days. In the case of engineering students, they are scanned after three days and the digital version is finally assessed by the examiner.
According to police, those arrested made use of these three days to steal the answer papers of a few students so that they could write the answers to the questions they did not attempt and put back them in the original stack for assessment.
This is the second such incident in less than two months after a betel leaf seller and four MU employees were arrested for their involvement in a fake mark sheet scam.
“We have found out about this modus operandi for the first time and it just goes to prove that we need to keep updating the (security) system in place,” MU vice-chancellor, Sanjay Deshmukh, said.
Deshmukh added that strict action will be taken against the culprits.
Police investigations have revealed the names of two more university employees involved in the case and those of close to 90 students who benefited from this.
A parallel inquiry is also being conducted by a specially appointed fact-finding committee of the university.
As a precautionary measure, MU has decided to start frisking employees in the examination house at the time of entry and exit and to install CCTV cameras across the two buildings that house all important documents including the answer sheets.
Senior educationists have pointed at the laid back attitude of the university, which they say has led to these scams.
“Loopholes in the MU security system have been highlighted time and again and the same precautionary measures were noted down even three years ago, when a series of MU question papers were leaked,” Madhu Paranjape, a former member of the MU Senate, said.
“The fact that in these many years, the authorities still ignore such basic details show their apathy towards the system altogether and this needs to be changed immediately,” Paranjape added.
In 2011, a similar racket was busted by police who arrested the two peons for stealing answer sheets from the central assessment centre at the university’s Kalina campus.
The accused, who were working as temporary staff at the university, were caught trying to leave with eight engineering answer sheets tied to their legs.