PSI scam irregularities: CID names 34 in charge sheet
The CID filed the first charge sheet a day after it arrested a senior IPS officer and former head of the police recruitment cell, Amrit Paul, in connection with a separate case registered in Bengaluru
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Karnataka Police has named 34 people — including a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary — as it filed a charge sheet in connection with irregularities in the recruitment of police sub-inspectors (PSI), people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.
Public prosecutor Shivasharanappa Hospet submitted the 1,975-page charge sheet in the case, which came to light earlier this year, before a Kalaburagi magistrate’s court on Tuesday. The accused included Divya Hagaragi, the former head of the BJP Mahila Morcha in Kalaburagi region, her husband, the headmaster of a school owned by her and three teachers at the school, confirmed the public prosecutor.
The CID filed the first charge sheet a day after it arrested a senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and former head of the police recruitment cell, Amrit Paul, in connection with a separate case registered in Bengaluru.
The charge sheet pertains to the 34 arrests made in Kalaburagi over the last three months, CID officials said.
“The 34 people arrested were involved in corruption, facilitation of a crime by public officials, criminal conspiracy, removal of evidence, destruction of evidence, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, and forgery,” the CID claims in its charge sheet.
The case first came to light in Kalaburagi district after a group of candidates wrote to the office of the state’s home minister alleging malpractice in the examination. The CID has filed multiple first information reports (FIRs) in connection with the case, the first of which was filed in Kalaburagi in April.
Hagaragi, who owned the Kalaburagi-based Jnana Jyothi English School, which served as an examination centre for the PSI recruitment exam in October 2021, has been charged for facilitating cheating at her school. Her school teachers who were posted as invigilators had filled in answers on Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets after the examination was over.
As many as 545 candidates cleared the PSI exam in January 2022 from a group of 54,287 candidates who wrote the written exam in October last year from 150,000 aspirants. After the irregularities came to light, the CID asked all candidates to submit their answer sheets and sent them for forensic tests. The candidates were given a carbon copy of the answer sheet.
A senior officer supervising the case said the investigation has so far been based on the forensic reports.
The Karnataka government asked the CID to investigate the exam irregularities on April 7 this year. On April 29, after the CID probe pointed at large-scale rigging, the state government withdrew the exam results and announced that a fresh examination will be conducted.
The charge sheet also names Veeresh H, a candidate who obtained 121 marks out of 150 in the written examination, even though he answered only 21 out of 100 questions in the examination. The PSI recruitment scam came to light after Veeresh did not pay an agent who arranged the manipulation of his answer script at the examination centre. The agent later posted a copy of the OMR sheet that was given to Veeresh after his written exam, along with the final marks he received, on social media, resulting in protests by candidates.
Besides Hagaragi and her school staff, two police officers — Anand Mallikarjun and Vaijinath, both deputy superintendent of police (DySP) rank officers — who were in charge of security and allegedly turned a blind eye to the malpractices facilitated at the Kalaburagi examination centre are also among the 34 named in the charge sheet.
Similarly, Vaijanath Revoor, an assistant commandant in the Karnataka State Reserve Police, and Kalaburagi police inspector Arun Maitri have also been named in the charge sheet.
The names of Rudragouda Patil, an agent who played a central role in the fixing of the exam, and his brother and local Congress functionary in the district, Mahantesh Patil, also featured in the charge sheet.
“The tampering of answer sheets was only one part of the scam. The other version of the scam, although limited in numbers, was more sophisticated and was being operated using Bluetooth devices,” a CID official said, requesting anonymity.
Some of the candidates arrested in connection with the case and named in the charge sheet are Chetan Nandgaon (second rank), Veeresh (seventh rank), Praveen Kumar (ninth rank), Vishal S (15th rank), Arun Patil (17th rank) and N V Sunil (25th rank) who were among 67 candidates selected in the provisional list under the merit category for the Kalyana Karnataka region.
“We have given a free hand to the officers. We have zero tolerance for such activities. We want a continuous process of cleaning up the system irrespective of big or small fish,” said Karnataka chief minister Bommai responding to the ongoing investigation.