The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) mathematics and statistics question papers — for the arts, science and commerce streams — were leaked on WhatsApp on Monday , at least 30 minutes before the exam, much like the Secretarial Practice and Physics papers on Saturday and Marathi on Thursday. Two students were caught on Monday viewing the leaked images on their phones at the exam centres and brought to the police station for questioning. Education minister Vinod Tawde, however, refused to term the incident as a leak, claiming the paper didn’t reach many students.
Shots of both the papers were shared on a students’ group on the messaging application at 10.30am, while they were handed out to examinees at 10.50am and the exam began at 11am. This means students had time to look at the papers.
The detention of the two students indicates examinees were able to access the leaked paper on their phones that they had sneaked in, even though they were inside the exam hall, and that the leak has not been contained to a small group of students — others, too, may have sneaked their phones into the exam room and viewed the photos.
One of the students is a girl who was checking the images on her phone at PD Turakhia Junior College, an exam centre in Kurar, Malad, and the other one was caught showing the images to other students in the corridors of MMK College, Bandra. She has been booked by the Kurar police under relevant sections of the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board and other specified Exams Act -1982 and the IT Act. Supervisors at both the centres noticed them checking their phones around 10.45am. The board had asked the supervisors to watch out for students sneaking in mobiles into the exam room.
On the instructions of the board, both students were permitted to write the exam and complaints were filed later. “In such cases, we allow students to take the exam, but action will be taken against them later depending on the investigation. If they are guilty, they won’t get their exam results,” said Siddheshwar Chandekar, divisional secretary of the board. Officials hope the students will help trace the origin of the pictures.
Also, the Mumbai division of the Maharashtra State Board in Vashi filed a complaint against the math paper leak with the Vashi police station, adding to the case against HSC Marathi and the other two papers that were leaked back to back.
“Both the question papers have come out on WhatsApp, we matched them to the original papers and found that they are the same,” said Dattatray Jagtap, chairperson of the Mumbai divisional board, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad, too.
Despite this, Tawde, in a media statement, said the incidents cannot be called a leak. “The boy was viewing the paper outside the exam hall. So the paper mustn’t have reached many, it is a malpractice,” said Tawde. “Even then, the incident is serious. It appears to have taken place between the question papers reaching the students and being distributed to students.”
This is the fifth time in a row that papers have been leaked on WhatsApp. On Saturday, Secretarial Practice and Physics leaked, after Marathi on Thursday. Book Keeping and Aaccountancy has been leaking for the last two years in a similar manner.