No recruitment until CID finishes probe: Police chief
The police department stopped all recruitments until the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) completes its probe into the PSI scam.
Except for clerical staff, all other officers in Karnataka’s recruitment division have been transferred following malpractices in the police sub-inspector recruitment scam, senior Karnataka police officials said on Thursday.
Newly appointed director general of police (recruitment) Kamal Pant said a new team has been brought in and no officer, who served in the recruitment cell during controversial PSI recruitment, remains in any position in the cell.
The police department stopped all recruitments until the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) completes its probe into the PSI scam. Apart from the controversial rank list, which has been blacklisted after incidents of malpractice came to light, the state police to conduct a second recruitment driver for sub-inspectors this year.
“Since the matter is currently sub-judice, we will not conduct a re-examination for the blacklisted rank list or conduct an examination of any other recruitment for civil sub-inspector posts,” said Praveen Sood, director general and inspector general of Karnataka police.
In October, the examinations for the recruitment of police sub-inspectors’ posts were held. As many as 545 candidates cleared the exam in January from a group of 54,287 candidates who had taken the writing exam. The PSI recruitment scam, the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of sub-inspectors has triggered a political storm in Karnataka.
So far, at least 65 people including additional director general of police Amrit Paul, deputy superintendents of police, inspectors, a few other police personnel, BJP leader Divya Hagaragi, who owned the Jnana Jyothi English Medium School in Kalaburagi and the gunman of a Congress MLA have been arrested.
On Monday, a group of candidates approached Karnataka Administrative Tribunal demanding that those who have cleared the examination and have not been arrested by the CID should be allowed to enter service. However, the Karnataka police have informed the tribunal that until CID completes the investigation, all candidates remain persons of interest in the case, this appointment can’t be made.
Pant, however, said even though police will not undertake any further recruitment for civil sub-inspectors, the recruitment of sub-inspectors for Karnataka Industrial Security Force and Karnataka Armed Reserve Police, which have different recruitment methods, will be conducted as scheduled.
While the investigation is still underway, there are fears of the scam stalling the recruitment process that was on track after several years of delays. According to a senior officer posted in the Karnataka Police Headquarters, as the current plan, all vacancies in the state police should have been filled by 2024.
“The police department has been understaffed for several years now and it is only after pushing the government for several years, that we are able to begin large recruitment to fill all these vacancies. But this (PSI scam) derails the entire process,” said the ADGP rank officer.
Some officers say that the PSI scam is going to be the last nail in the coffin that would derail the recruitment plans. In 2020 and 2021, malpractices were found during the recruitment of constables in the state. In 2020, five people were arrested during the Karnataka State Reserve Police constable recruitment examination for impersonating candidates and using Bluetooth devices at a centre in Bengaluru. In 2021, two candidates including a woman were arrested for using a Bluetooth device during the examination.
“They (the incidents of malpractices in the past) were considered one-off incidents, as only a few candidates were arrested. But with this large-scale malpractice coming to light, it appears there are several problems in the recruitment process that needs to be addressed. Apart from that one of the persons arrested in the PSI scam, Manjunath (an associate of Patil) was involved in facilitating malpractice during the PWD engineer examination held last year, which could mean that the gang could be involved in other scams as well,” the officer pointed out.
Implementing reforms to overcome these loopholes and make the recruitment process tamperproof would be a tough job, the scrutiny will be higher this time. “In 2015, we changed the process for conducting the recruitment examinations. Earlier policemen used to be invigilators and following some complaints of malpractice, we had given the invigilator tasks to private parties in the hope of making it transparent, but even that has been proven to be problematic. Now to come with a new system that can’t be meddled with, would take time and delay the entire recruitment process,” the officer added.