Cheating does not pay. This was a lesson learned the hard way by the principal and teachers of a college in Gujarat’s Amreli district. They have to pay heavy fines for not taking action in a case of mass cheating by students during an examination and for tampering with CCTV footage of the incident.
KK Parekh Commerce College, one of the oldest colleges in the state affiliated with Saurashtra University, was fined of Rs 12 lakh on January 16 by the university. Amreli Vidhya Sabha, the trust running the college and the principal, Dr Harish Shah, were asked to pay Rs 2 lakh and Rs 75,000, respectively. Eleven teachers were fined Rs50,000 and four computer technicians Rs 25,000.
“To my knowledge, no college in the history of Gujarat has been slapped with such a huge penalty. But it has been done to set a precedent,” Saurashtra University vice-chancellor Prabhatsinh Chauhan said.
The action was taken by the university after a video went viral on social media, showing students talking to each other, consulting books and cellphones while writing a sixth semester BCom exam on March 2016 at KK Parekh Commerce College.
“I personally went to the college to check if the video was genuine. An examination of the premises and interaction with students revealed it was indeed real,” Chauhan said.
The university’s examination disciplinary committee also found some CCTV footage had been erased from tapes. The hard disk sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Rajkot had also been tampered with.
Like the other 299 colleges affiliated with the university, KK Parekh College has a number of CCTVs.
The principal and teachers appeared before the committee and admitted to having deleted the footage related to cheating incident. They also assured the university authorities that such incidents would not be repeated.
The university registered a case against 51 students for allegedly indulging in cheating in April last year. They were also barred from taking the exam for the next three years. Others had to reappear for another test in a different examination centre with the college bearing expenses for the re-examination. KK Parekh college has not been approved as an examination centre for the current semester too though exams are due in March and April.
“We are reviewing the situation,” Chauhan said.
Mass cheating or copying is not uncommon in India, where parents, friends and relatives ‘assist’ students by passing them chits of paper with answers.
In 2015, a photograph showing people clinging to the walls and peering through windows of a four-storey building in Bihar’s Vaishali to help students writing an exam grabbed international attention.
The photo forced the state government to threaten students with a penalty of Rs20,000 if they were caught cheating and relatives were told they’d be imprisoned if they tried to help the students.