The Staff Selection Commission (SSC) dragged its feet for two months on filing an FIR for a leak of the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Examination question paper in August, prompting concerns that the commission had tried to play down its implications.
Over 38.04 lakh candidates had registered for the examination to get a government job ranging from clerical staff to customs and income tax inspectors. Nearly 14.99 lakh of them sat for the test across 96 cities from August 27 to September 11.
The leak was detected at a coaching centre in Bihar’s Bhagalpur – that doubled up as a test centre – on the first day. An alert policeman found a chit on a candidate, Aashish Kumar, during frisking. It turned out that he had almost all the answers to the questions that he was going to get in the online test.
The SSC did not file a police complaint. It did not even tell anyone about the leak.
Seven weeks later, SSC announced there would be a re-test for all candidates who appeared in the second shift on August 27. The October 14 notice cited the decision to “administrative reasons”.
But word got out about the leak, and demands for a complete re-exam started pouring in.
The first admission about the leak came soon after.
On October 19, SSC chairman Ashim Khurana said the “incident” at a venue in Bhagalpur was “effectively neutralised at its inception stage”.
Unlike a paper and pen exam where a leak can be a local event, a leak in a computer-based exam implies that there is a technical flaw. If the official in one centre could leak the paper due to the flaw, so could others.
But it was only on October 27 that a SSC representative filed a FIR with the Bhagalpur police.
Former SSC chairman NK Raghupathy told HT that it was the norm to file the police complaint as soon as malpractice comes to light. “I can understand a delay of a day or two. But not two months,” he said.
At the SSC, there were no clear answers for the delay.
Asked, the SSC chairman said the commission had “done its due diligence in the matter and kept the government informed”. He insisted that the FIR had been filed at the “right time”.
But asked if the SSC had fixed the technical loophole that let someone download the question paper in advance, Khurana called it a hypothetical point. He brushed aside further queries, saying “all facts would come out in the investigation report of the police”.
This is unlikely. The police haven’t even started a probe.
Bhagalpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manoj Kumar did not even know that the chit found on the examinee matched with the questions in the exam.
Kumar told HT that the police had been informed about recovery of a chit from a candidate but the examination centre officials told them that the subject matter of the chit did not relates to the examination. “So there is little scope for police to proceed further,” he said.