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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Maharashtra SSC leaks: Officials yet to take action, check lapses

After NGO Samvad Foundation complained of algebra and science 1 and 2 papers being leaked on March 14, officials at the divisional board registered an FIR on March 20.

mumbai Updated: Mar 28, 2019 00:23 IST
Ankita Bhatkhande
Ankita Bhatkhande
Hindustan Times
Kakatiya High School in Bhiwandi is yet to suspend the accused vice-principal.
Kakatiya High School in Bhiwandi is yet to suspend the accused vice-principal.(HT Photo)
         

ankita.bhatkhande@htlive.com

A secondary school certificate (SSC) paper leak; a nexus between a school and coaching classes; and the future of 3.8 lakh Class 10 students from the city at stake, this scenario should have jolted the authorities at Mumbai division into action to check their procedural lapses and curb them. But their response even after two weeks is – “We will look into the issue”.

After NGO Samvad Foundation complained of algebra and science 1 and 2 papers being leaked on March 14, officials at the divisional board registered an FIR on March 20. The same day, three students were spotted with question papers outside an exam centre by the flying squad, leading to the arrest of a coaching class owner, Wazhir Rehman Sheikh. Soon, Amber Ansari, vice-principal of Kakatiya High School in Bhiwandi, was arrested for allegedly sending photographs of the question papers to owners of coaching classes in Bhiwandi on March 20.

The divisional board had appointed Ansari as the chief conductor of examinations for his school, which meant he was in-charge of conducting exams at the centre. But he travelled in his car to the custody (the main exam centre in the region from where question papers are transported to the exam centres) and carried the question papers to his centre. This was a possible lapse of the divisional board as the transporting papers to the centres is the job of the assistant custodian – an official appointed by the main exam centre in the region.

While Sharad Khandagale, secretary, Mumbai divisional board, confirmed the norms were flouted, he said the investigation will begin after they get the police report. “It is the task of the custodians to transport papers at the centres, but in this case, it seems like the norm was not followed. We will look into the issue once we get a report from the police,”he said.

The Maharashtra state board, meanwhile, is yet to seek a report from the Mumbai division. “We don’t know the exact details yet. The state board will now seek a report from the division,” said Shakuntala Kale, chairperson, Maharashtra state board.

State education minister Vinod Tawde did not respond to calls and messages despite several attempts.

According to the norms, the principal of a school, which is a centre for board exams, becomes the chief conductor of examinations.

In this case however, the task was given to Ansari, a science teacher appointed on contract by the school in 2014. “The principal was given exam duty for HSC exams. He had to depute Ansari for the task as he was the senior-most teacher after him,” said Ramesh Pasikanti, chairman, Kakatiya high school.

When asked whether the principal of a school which does not have a junior college can be given HSC exam duty, Khandagale said: “We will have to check the details.”

Former board officials also raised concerns about the divisional board’s decision of marking a private school with just 59 SSC students a centre.

Meanwhile, the school is yet to get an official correspondence from the board informing them about Ansari’s arrest. “We have still not got a letter and can’t suspend him officially,” said Pasikanti.

Govind Sharma, founder of Samvad Foundation who alerted the board about the leak on March 14, said, “It is shocking that two weeks after we sent an email to the board, they have not fixed the responsibility on anyone. The leak seems to have benefited students across 30 coaching centres in Bhiwandi.”

Ankit Goyal, DCP, zone 2, Bhiwandi, said, “We are investigating the crime. Procedural lapses, if any, will fall under the board’s jurisdiction and need to be investigated from their end.”

(With inputs from Ankita G Menon)

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 00:20 IST