CBI court’s ruling provides fresh ammo in SSC exam scam

A. M. Jigeesh | | Updated on: Sep 20, 2019

Agitation is for reform not at all about cancellation of SSC results, say petitioners

The report has been modified to include additional information

A fresh turn of events may reignite a dormant movement by unemployed youth over leaked question papers of Combined Graduate Level Examination (CGLE) in 2017 conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

While the opposition parties, which supported their movement in 2018 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, deserted them soon afterwards, the aspirants are moving to agitate the matter before the Supreme Court-appointed high-level committee headed by retired Supreme Court Judge JS Singhvi that is working on reforming such competitive examinations.

Behind the latest spurt in the movement is a recent bail order by a CBI court that said all the question sets with answers for the Quantitative Aptitude and English Language and Comprehension exams scheduled from February 17-21, 2018, were leaked by the key culprits, who were arrested by the CBI in the case.

The aspirants have written to Justice Singhvi and other members of the high-level committee to take this bail order as a proof that the entire examination process is tainted by leakage.

The main complainant on behalf of the aspirants, Shantanu Kumar, told BusinessLine that political parties showed no interest in them after the elections. “We are very happy with the CBI investigation into this scam. But the investigating agency failed to file the chargesheet against the main accused Akshay Kumar Malik in the case, and as a result, all three culprits arrested so far have been granted bail by the CBI session court.”

He added, “The court’s order giving bail to one of the culprits, however, has revealed many facts. The bail order countered the SSC’s claims that only one day’s examinations were manipulated. The order said the entire questions were leaked to certain applicants. This order buttresses our demand that SSC examinations should be reformed and private custodians should be disallowed from conducting such examinations and the SSC should take direct responsibility.”

Recovered documents

He said in a letter to Singhvi and six members in the panel, including former CEO of Infosys Nandan Nilekani, computer scientist Vijay P Bhatkar and Chennai Mathematical Institute Director Rajeev L Karandikar, that searches were also conducted at four places including Delhi and Ghaziabad which led to the recovery of incriminating documents and articles.

The CBI order said that Annu Malik, the key accused, “in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy, obtained all question sets with answers of QA and English Language and Comprehension of the exam and showed them to prospective candidates prior to respective exams in lieu of illegal gratification. Accused applicant Akshay Malik played an active role while the question papers were shown to the candidates in Raj Nagar Extension.”

It added, “The premises was taken on rent by the accused/applicant and he assisted the accused persons while showing the questions and answers to candidates. He collected the payment for showing the question papers and delivered to late Annu Malik.”

Petitioners' agitation

“Agitation is for reform not at all about cancellation of SSC results,” petitioners in the exam leak case. Among those who have been moved the Supreme Court are those who have cleared earlier tiers of the SSC exam and are eagerly awaiting the final results on November 15

The renewed agitation by the petitioners on the issue of leaked question papers of Combined Graduate Level Examination (CGLE) in 2017 conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) is specifically on reform of the entire examination process and absolutely not about the cancellation of the specific exam in 2017. In fact, among those who have moved the Supreme Court-appointed High Level Committee for the purpose of reform are aspirants who have actually qualified the examination in 2017.  

The plea is only aimed at to seek reforms in the way SSC examinations are conducted. Shubham Malik, an aspirant who represents the group that has asked the Supreme Court seeking reform in the exam process, has himself cleared all the stages of the examination and has submitted his documents for verification with the SSC. While some aspirants fear that the legal fight in the Supreme Court may result in cancellation of the examination, the petitioners and the group of agitators they represent have sought to assuage these fears by underlining that a number of them have cleared the exam themselves.

They maintained that when the first PIL was filed, a delay in the announcement of results was sought and the Supreme Court had stayed the same. However, the Supreme Court has since vacated the stay and the petitioners have no intention of challenging the vacation of the stay or asking for any cancellation of the results. All they are interested in is that a fair probe be conducted and such incidents as the exam leak do not happen again. The final result of the 2017 examination is likely to be announced by November 15, 2019 and some of the petitioners themselves are eagerly awaiting the results.

Shubham Malik said said his purpose in moving the agitation further is to ensure that such incidents as the leak that happened cast a shadow over the integrity of the process and that is precisely what they hope to restore. The purpose is not to mar or disturb the prospects of those who cleared the exam.

"At no stage since the first public interest litigation have we demanded cancellation of the entire examination. I have cleared the exam, but since it is leaked, my rank could be lower. This must not be repeated. There should be reforms in the process and the impartial investigation into the conduct of 2017 examination," Malik said.

Ajit Dsouza, another aspirant who is part of the group that is behind the petition in the Supreme Court, said he has also cleared all the tiers of the examination. "I am waiting for the final appointment order. I have qualified. But what I feel is that corruption in recruitment examinations creates problems and hurdles for young people who want jobs. We want justice and we want fairness," he said.

Published on September 20, 2019
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